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Full text of "In the Okefenokee; a story of war time and the great Georgia swamp"

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Cteo. H- Dunham. 




Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2010 with funding from 

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 


Tlicy 're going to eat us up!" gasped poor Charlie. — /''A''' '-■'^- 










Copyright, 1895, 
By Louis Pendleton. 

All rights reserved. 

SHntbcrsttjg ^rcss: 
John Wilson and Son, Cambridge, U.S.A. 


Chapter Page 

I. Sad News for Refugees 1 

II. Lost in the Okefenokee 12 

III. The Deserters' Camp 24 

IV. Prisoners 33 

V. Diversion in Captivity 43 

VI. Charley is introduced to " Son," and listens 

to a Story 55 

YII. A Break for Freedom 61 

Vlir. Joe and Charley cover themselves with 

Gr.oRY 71 


DEAD?" 80 

X. The "Cock of the "Walk" is " hurted " in 

HIS Mind 87 

XI. The Gander Pulling 98 

XII. Flight 106 

Xlir. The Boys are left to their own Resources 114 

XIV. Land of the "Trembling Earth" 123 

XV. A "Desert Inaccessible" 133 



Chapter Page 

XVI. George Washington Jefferson Jackson Smith 141 

XVII. Again in Durance Vile 151 

XVIII. The Widow of a Soldier or the W^ife of a 

Deserter? 159 

XIX. The Problem is solved 168 

XX. Home at Last . . , 178 




TT was late iu February of the year 1865, — winter ac- 
-■- cording to the calendar ; but already wild violets were 
peeping through the frost-browned wire-grass, and honey- 
suckle and dogwood blossoms had begun to perfutne the 
air. In southeastern Georgia, winter is only a make-be- 
lieve, and soon yields to spring. 

Among the scattering pines in front of a " double-pen " 
log-house, and near a " wet-weather " spring, two boys 
were engaged in cleaning a gun ; that is to say, one of 
them, the larger of the two, was thus occupied, while the 
other looked on with absorbed attention. The taller boy, 
who was about fourteen years old and well grown for his 
age, had removed his coat, and from time to time, as he 
paused in his work, wiped the sweat from his forehead. 
The other, who could not have been more than ten years 
old, stood where the sunshine fell full upon him, but had 
not yet found his coat too warm. 



Both boys were dark and fine of feature, but hardly to 
be called handsome, although there was a straightforward, 
open look on the face of each which seemed to promise a 
manhood of truthfulness and honor. 

The double barrels of the gun had been separated from 
the stock, and were held upright in a shallow tin basin of 
water from the spring. The ranu'od, wrapped carefully 
with cloth, was drawn back and forth in the barrels, piston 
fashion, causing the water to be sucked in and sprayed 
forth from the tubes, and thus removing the accumulations 
of burnt powder and wadding. 

" I 'm goin' to give her a good cleaning this time, 
Charley," said the elder boy, " and maybe the next time I 
jump a deer she won't fail me." 

" Papa says you don't clean your gun often enough," 
rejoined Charley, after a moment. 

The larger boy appeared to disdain a response to this 
criticism at second hand ; and there followed a long 
pause, during which fresli water was vigorously drawn 
in and sprayed out. Finally the younger boy spoke 
again, — 

" Do you want to know a secret, Joe ? " 

" What is it ? " 

" I think Sister Marian must be goin' to marry Captain 

" Who said so ? " 

" Nobody. But I saw him kiss her." i^jQ 


" Just before he left. He kissed her, and she did n't do 
a thing, — she just turned red." 


" Humph ! " Joe's displeased exclamation. " I 'm 
glad / was n't there. It would 'a' made me mad." 

Little did the boys suspect that the young captain had 
obtained leave of absence, and travelled hundreds of miles, 
in order to ask for and obtain the right to do just what 
Joe so emphatically disapproved. 

" And wlien he was gone, she cried," continued Charley, 
" I saw lier." 

" It was high time for him to go," said Joe. " Father 
says we need every man at the front we can get. He says 
the Confederacy is bleeding at every pore. It is such a 
pity that father is too old, and I am too young ! I wish 
they 'd let me go, anyhow." 

" Papa is over sixty," remarked Cliarley. 

" Everything is goin' against our side," continued Joe. 
" Father says the Confederacy is ' tottering on its last 
foundations.' And to think that now, when every man is 
needed, the Okefenokee is full of deserters ! Fatlier said 
it made his blood boil. Brother George and brother Tom 
have been at the front from the very start," the boy added, 
with pride. 

Joe had just finished cleaning the gun when Charley's 
attention was attracted to two men wlio were approaching 
the log-house from the woods. Half an hour before, he 
had seen his father go out with an axe to fell a tree. He 
was now returning, the axe thrown across his shoulder, 
accompanied by a neighbor, who held a newspaper in his 

What riveted Charley's attention was the fact that his 
father was weeping aloud. 


" Joe, look yonder ! Papa must have hurt himself 
with the axe." 

" You little goose ! " cried Joe, turning to look. A mo- 
ment later the elder boy's face changed, and with quicken- 
ing breath he half-whispered, " Somebody must be dead ! " 

Then both boys started toward the house at a run. 

That Mr. Roger M^riniee, the father of the two boys, 
was not of Anglo-Saxon descent might be surmised from 
the fact that he could weep in this way. He and his 
family did not belong to the Okefenokee backwoods. He 
was, or had been before the war, a wealthy rice-planter 
of the coast, living on the same spot where his ancestors, 
belonging to the persecuted and self-exiled Huguenots of 
France, had settled generations before. 

Stern adversity was now the portion of this family; 
their beloved island liome had fallen into the hands of a 
Union force, and they were refugees. Mr. Mdrimde had 
brought his wife, daughter, and two younger sons, a few 
belongings and three servants, in boats of liis own, up the 
St. Mary's Eiver to the backwoods village of Trader's 
Hill, on the borders of the great Okefenokee Swamp. A 
mile from that settlement they had hastily erected a 
"double-pen" log-house. Here the family had sojourned 
— or "camped," as they said — during the past eight 

The neighbor with the newspaper in his hand had not 
gone in. He halted at the gate a few moments, then 
turned to go. Observing the two boys running toward 
the house, he stopped, as if intending to speak to them, 
but after a moment's reflection moved on afjain. 


The boys did not need to be told that a great grief had 
come to their home. As they came near the door, the 
sound of weeping issued from the large room on the 
right. Charley ran in, but Joe hesitated. Seeing a negro 
woman approaching from the kitchen, he ran to meet 

'• What is it, Aunt Martha ? " he asked, trembling. 

" Mas' CTCorge — " she said. The woman's round good- 
humored face was now very sad. " Mas' George — " she 
repeated, falteringly 

"Is he dead?" 

"Yes, honey." 

The woman passed on hurriedly ; and Joe, after a mo- 
ment, absently seated himself on a bench in the wide 
hallway, where from time to time the sound of fresh sobs 
reached him. The boy was only ten years old when his 
brother went to the war, and during the four years since 
they had seen each other but twice. They were almost 
strangers ; and it was only natural that Joe could not 
grieve as his parents grieved. 

Still he was very unhappy. There was something 
appalling in this great grief which he could not fully 
share ; it filled him with anxiety and dread. He did not 
want to see them weeping, — his father, his mother, his 
sister; it was painful even to think of. And so he stayed 
where he was, and waited. 

While he waited, his thoughts were busy. He wondered 
where his brother was now, — his real brother, who would 
live forever, not the body which would be buried in the 
ground. Was he walking about in that world to which 


be had gone, and looking at things and asking questions ; 
and were the angels teaching him, telling him everything 
he wanted to know ? Joe thought there must be a great 
deal to see in that world, and that, but for the dying, — 
which every one seemed to regard as so very painful, — it 
must be very pleasant to go there. 

Finally his sister Marian crossed the hall, and, observing 
him, approached. She was unusually handsome, in spite 
of her swollen eyes and tear-stained face. 

"Have they told you, Joe ?" she asked softly. 

" Yes. Where was he when he fell ? " 

" At Columbia." 

She burst out crying again, putting one arm round the 
boy's neck. In a few moments he, too, was overcome. 
The grief of the household had become his also. The 
future world might indeed be the delightful place he had 
pictured it, but the lifelong parting was terribly sad. 

The house was astir at daylight next morning. Martha 
served as tempting a breakfast as the resources of the 
house would permit ; but no one was hungry. Joe ob- 
served that his father, his mother,, and his sister had eacli 
dressed with particular care that morning ; and he wondered 
if they were going away. Presently his mother called liim 
into her room. 

" We are going down the river to St. Mary's," she told 
him, gravely. " We want to hear more news. Your 
father is too feeble to travel alone, and I must go witli 
him. Marian will go, too ; she cannot remain here Avith- 
out me, at her age. So we shall have to leave you boys 
with Martha and John." 


Joe wondered why it was considered safe for Charley 
and himself to remain, and not safe for his sister ; but he 
did not ask questions. 

"Your father is not afraid to leave you with Martha 
and John," his mother continued. ''They will be kind to 
you, and you must not do anything to provoke them, Joe. 
Of all our servants, they were always the best. We are 
not afraid they will run away and leave you, as Asa did." 
Asa was a negro who had belonged to the family and who 
had disappeared some time before. 

A few minutes later the boys watched the wagon drive 
away. Martha and John were watching, too. It was a 
strange sight this, — their master and mistress seated in 
chairs in an open wagon and driving away, just as the 
commonest " Crackers " might have done. 

The vehicle out of sight, John turned away silently to 
pursue the work which had been left him to do ; but be- 
fore Martha resumed her labors she said to the boys, — 

" Yo' ma say you-all kin hunt much as you please while 
she gone, but you mus' be keerful. You-all better keep 
out dat swamp," she added, on her own account. " No 
tellin' what dem 'zerters might do ef dey cotch you in dat 

Joe smiled contemptuously. What was a deserter but 
a cowardl}^ sneak ? And who was afraid ? 

The great Okefenokee Swamp, a wild waste some forty 
miles long by twenty-five broad, surrounded by vast tracts 
of pine-barrens almost without a settlement, is better 
known now than it was in those days, but its character 
is essentially the same. It consists now, as it did then, of 


vast jungles, flooded forests, islands, lakes, "prairies," or 
marshes, and is still comparatively a pathless wilderness. 

More than a hundred years ago a story was current that 
it had been the last refuge of the ancient Yemassees, — a 
race which disappeared before the march of the conquering 
Creeks, — and it is well known to have been a stronghold 
of the Seminoles during the Florida-Indian war, as well 
as to have furnished a secure hiding-place for deserters 
during the Civil "War. At present its more accessible 
islands sustain one or two squatter families, while the 
swamp itself is, as it has ever been, the bountiful and 
protecting mother of a variety of wild animals, birds, 
alligators, and other reptiles. 

Joe and Charley had never ventured far into it, but 
had often, alone or with their father, hunted along its 
borders, and had, therefore, some idea of its general char- 
acter. The elder boy was not lacking in courage, but was 
restrained by prudence. To say nothing of the possible 
encounters with reptiles, bears, and panthers, he knew that 
there were thorny jungles through which it was difficult to 
go without paying a penalty of torn clothing and bleeding 
limbs, and that tliere were vast marshes, wherein one often 
sank to the armpits in mud and water. 

None the less, liowever, was there an alluring attraction 
about the great swamp ; its remote recesses rose before the 
boy's imagination, unveiling their wonders and inviting 
his approach. 

Joe had long been determined to extend his explorations 
when a favorable opportunity should arrive. The day 
after the departure of his parents he decided that the time 


had come. Permission to enjoy unlimited bunting had 
been given him ; why not penetrate the Okefenokee, to 
the extent of two or three days' journey at least ? 

The chief obstacle in the way was Charley. Joe felt 
that the boy was too young to go, and yet he did not like 
to leave him behind. Nor could he think of going alone 
without misgivings. If he only had a comrade, a boy 
friend of his own age — or even if John, the black man, 
would agree to go. This, however, was out of the ques- 
tion ; John had work to do, and in any case probably 
could not be persuaded to go. 

But Joe felt that something must be done. He \vas not 
disposed to idle about the house, and dwell upon the grief 
which had befallen the family. If he could but find 
some of those deserters hiding in the swamp and tell them 
how things were going at tlie front, they — perhaps they 
would become ashamed of their evil way and return to 
their duty. Could he but accomplish this, how happy 
he would be ! For hours the boy could think of nothing 
but this glorious plan. 

However, he concluded to wait still another day before 
starting, hoping some one at Trader's Hill could be 
persuaded to go with him. 

One plan after anotlier suggested itself to Joe that after- 
noon, as he and Charley walked out to try the newly 
cleaned gun. Martha had given them an early dinner, 
and they had a long afternoon before them. Heedless of 
her repeated warning, they at the outset tuined their steps 
in the direction of the great swamp. This was but nat- 
ural, for there was less game in the pine-barrens. 


Joe trudged ahead, his gun across his right shoulder, 
and a powder-horn and shot-pouch hanging at his left side. 
Charley followed, armed only with a hatchet; he was con- 
sidered too young to handle a gun. 

For about two miles the path led through open pine- 
barrens, carpeted with wire-grass, level as a floor; then 
gradually a downward slope was perceived, and ere long 
the straggling pines were meiged in the thicker growth of 
the swamp. 

Quitting the path which skirted the swamp, Joe led the 
way through a " head," or arm of the great morass, thickly 
grown up with cypresses and covered for the most part 
with shallow water, through which the boys boldly waded. 
It did not occur to them to remove their shoes, or to take a 
circuitous route in order to avoid the water. To penetrate 
the Okefenokee even for half a mile with dry feet was out of 
the question. An hour later, after following a dimly out- 
lined trail for some two miles, the boys found themselves 
on the shore of a little lake or pond, the surface of which, 
except near the centre, was largely hidden by "bonnets" 
— a species of water-lily — and clumps of brown flags or 

Charley had never been so far before, but Joe remem- 
bered hunting along this lake with his father, who had 
shot three ducks. The deserters were now forgotten ; and 
visions of wild ducks, both alive and slain, floated before 
Joe's inner sight and urged him on. 

He skirted more than half the way round the lake, 
creeping forward stealthily, before he sighted a flock of 
ducks within range. Then he was so much excited that 


his aim was wild and fruitless. Charley, who had been 
directed to remain quiet and far in the rear, now hurried 
up to see what Joe had shot. 

The sun was fast sinking behind the wall of woods ; and 
Charley insisted that they should at once turn back, or 
night would overtake them. But Joe refused to turn back 
until he had skirted the lake twice, shot several times, and 
finally killed a duck, to secure which he waded up to his 
waist in the sedge. 

Struggling out of the water with his prize, the boy hur- 
riedly took his bearings and led the way along what ap- 
peared to be the trail by which they had come. 

Within an hour the sun had set and the twilight was 
thickening. This would have mattered little if they had 
been clear of the swamp ; but so far from having gained 
the open pine-barrens, they now seemed more deeply 
involved than ever, and were unable to recognize anything 
about them. 

Joe halted and looked anxiously around. He suspected 
that, in skirting the lake, intent on the game only, he had 
lost his bearings, and in starting homeward they had taken 
the wrong direction. This, indeed, was true. 

" Don't be frightened, Charley," he said manfully, after 
a few moments ; " but we are lost, and we shall have to 
stay here all night!" 



" QTAY here all night!" cried Charley, gazing around 

^ the gloomy swamp through starting tears. " I said 
we ought to turn back before." 

"Yes, it was all ray fault," said Joe; "but it can't be 
helped now." 

" Do you think the panthers will smell us and — and — 
come ? " asked Charley, in a whisper. 

" Don't be foolish. We are n't far enough in for that," 
answered Joe, stoutly, although the last part of his speech 
sounded a little weak, as if he had misgivings. He had 
never spent a night in the swamp ; and the prospect of it 
now, under the existing circumstances, was little short of 
terrifying. But he said resolutely, " It 's no use to think 
of finding our way home to-night, and we had better hunt 
a place to camp right away." 

Promptness was indeed necessary, for it was fast grow- 
ing dark. After a hurried search the boys selected a little 
open spot which was comparatively dry, and covered with 
dead grass. Within two or three feet stood a large black- 
gum tree, which, Joe reflected, could be climbed easily 
in an emergency; and close at hand was abundance of 
hemleaf and huckleberry bushes. The tops of these could 


be broken and piled where the boys expected to sleep, 
and the couch thus prepared, though not likely to suggest 
down, would at least protect them from the damp ground. 

Joe began next to collect fuel, as he should have done 
at first. They had scarcely begun to do this when it 
became so dark that no object more than three feet dis- 
tant could be distinctly seen. Dry wood appeared to be 
very scarce. Tliey had not as yet secured even a good 
torch, and Joe wasted more than half the few old and 
broken matches found in his pockets in an anxious search 
for a piece of " lightwood." 

Even then he did not find what he wanted, and began 
to consider giving up the fire. It certainly would not do 
to be left without a match. Who could tell when they 
would find their way out of the swamp ? Perhaps, after 
all, it might be better to pass the night without a fire, 
unless they could have a very large one. A small blaze 
could hardly frighten, and might attract wild animals. 

Joe struck one more match with no better result, and 
then gave up in despair. They now applied themselves 
to breaking and heaping the brush, and presently lay down 
upon the pile. 

Although in the swamp the darkness was dense, it was 
a clear night, and an occasional star could be seen through 
the foliage. After silently reciting their prayers, the boys 
lay close together, occasionally speaking in whispers and 
looking wearily up at the stars. At every sound in the 
forest, at every freshening of the night breeze in the leaves, 
they would start and listen, apprehending the attack of 
some wild animal. 


Although the month was February, it was a bahiiy 
spring night. But the boys were without covering ; their 
feet and legs were wet, and they soon began to feel cold. 

Presently Joe rose and broke more of the huckleberry 
tops ; making Charley rise, too, he scooped out a hollow 
in the enlarged pile. Then they lay down within it, 
covered themselves up to their ears, and felt warmer. 

Nothing disturbed them for a long while except an owl 
which lighted in the black-gum, and repeatedly demanded 
to know, " Who-wJio-who-all ?" as Charley declared. But 
after it flew to a distant perch, all was quiet except for the 
occasional rustling of the branches, and at last the weary 
boys fell asleep. 

Some hours later Joe was awakened by feeling Charley 
move, and hearing his voice close to his ear, — 

" Joe, Joe, wake up ! I heard something ! " 

Joe was wide-awake in a moment. Listening intently, 
he heard a stealthy footfall, then another and another, 
circling round the camp. The sounds could hardly have 
come from more than thirty feet away. 

" Let 's climb that tree ! " proposed Charley, excitedly. 
" It may be a panther ! " 

A twig snapped under the foot of the prowling animal, 
and terror seized the boys. Grasping his gun and ammu- 
nition, Joe leaped to his feet and bounded to the tree, 
Charley close at his heels. Every moment they expected 
a panther to spring. 

Joe held back, and let Charley go up the tree first, help- 
ing him until he could grasp the lower branches. Then, 
having passed up his gun, the elder boy climbed nimbly 


into the tree. Lodged in the branches of the Llack-gura 
some twenty feet from the ground, they listened intently, 
but heard no further sound. The marauder appeared to 
have been frightened in turn, and had either retreated, or 
had squatted and was remaining quiet. 

An hour passed, and still there was no sign. Arranging 
themselves as comfortably as possible among the spreading 
branches near the tree's main stem, the boys began to 
forget their situation and to doze. 

Awakening with a start some time later, Joe caught a 
glimpse of two gleaming eyes beneath the tree. Making 
sure of his gun, he whispered to Charley, who also began 
to stir, — 

" Do you see him ? Do you see his eyes ? " 

But Joe had scarcely opened his mouth, when a low, 
guttural growl advised him that he had seen aright. 
Eaising his gun, he tremblingly pointed it downward, 
and as soon as he saw the eyes again, aimed at them hastily 
and fired. 

The gun's report was followed by a howl of pain ; and 
then, during some moments, they could hear the wounded 
animal beating a frantic retreat through the neighboring 
underbrush. The boys were well satisfied to find that the 
scattering duck shot, even if they did not kill, would wound 
and drive away this panther, bear, wild-cat, or whatever it 
was. Joe remarked cheerfully that it was a great thing to 
have a gun, and both boys felt more comfortable after this, 
although they dared not descend from the tree. 

An hour later day began to break ; but the obscurity still 
shrouding neighboring objects for some time thereafter 


was entirely dissipated, and the sun was well up before 
the boys lelt their perch. Meanwhile Joe outlined plans 
for the day. 

" Charley," said he, " we '11 _go back on our tracks to the 
lake, go all around it carefully, make sure of the right 
path, and start off toward home. If we have good luck, 
we'll get there by dinner-time." 

As they descended from the tree, Charley espied the 
hatchet near their bed of leafy boughs, and picked it up. 
They then observed that the ground was covered with 
feathers, with here and there a few fragments of small 
bones, and recollected the duck which Joe had shot. Evi- 
dently the animal which had visited them iu the night had 
enjoyed a feast at their expense. 

" It may have been only a mink," said Joe, almost dis- 
posed to laugh. But he added, " I think it must have 
been at least a wild-cat, though." 

" It scared us just as much, anyliow," said Charley. 

Full of hope, they cheerfully started off on the backward 
trail. For the first half-mile it led over soft boggy earth, 
where the tracks were easily seen ; but by and by they 
reached a tract of several acres dotted with clumps of 
palmetto-bushes, where the ground was firm and thickly 
covered with wire-grass. 

Here the trail was soon lost. After some time spent in 
a vain attempt to find it, they pushed for\\'ard in what 
seemed the right general direction, hoping to pick up tlie 
trail. About an hour later they espied a sheet of water 
ahead of them. 

" There 's the lake ! " they shouted together. Cut on 


reaching its shores they found that it was not the lake 
wherein the duck had been shot, but another very much 
like it. 

It was now plain enough that they were seriously lost, 
being several miles within the border line of tlie Oke- 
fenokee, and ignorant which way to turn. They looked 
about them in despair. Poor Joe had long since forgotten 
his great plan of seeking out the deserters, and now thought 
only of finding the way home. 

He was not so disheartened, however, as to neglect a 
chance which offered for a shot at some ducks, and was for 
a few minutes higlily elated on discovering that he had 
killed two, and that they were within reach. It was now 
near noon, and both boys were ravenously hungry. 

They soon halted, therefore, at a little stream which ran 
into the marshy lake, built a fire, and prepared one of the 
ducks for food. The novel experiment of cutting thin 
slices from the bird, suspending them from the points of 
long sticks, and holding them close to the flames, absorbed 
their attention for a long while. Althoucdi the flesh of 
the duck thus roasted satisfied their hunger, and they 
considered it a very fine dish, they would under ordinary 
circumstances have regarded it as unpalatable in the 
extreme, owing to the lack of salt. 

" The thing for us to do, Charley," said Joe, as they rose, 
a little more cheerful, to move on, " is to keep pushing 
ahead where the swamp seems open. Maybe we'll find 
our way out after awhile." 

They pressed forward on in tliis way for several miles 
during the afternoon, but at sundown their prospects did 



not seem to have improved. They knew no better than be- 
fore where they were. As it was clearly necessary to 
remain in the swamp another night, they halted in time to 
select a favorable spot for a camp and collect a large pile 
of firewood. 

Having cooked and eaten the second duck, which 
Charley, with forethought, had brought along, drinking as 
much of the swamp water as they dared, they built a 
second fire some twenty feet from the first. Arranging 
midway between the two a bed of collected moss, leaves, 
and grass, they passed a quiet and fairly comfortable night, 
without alarms. 

The next morning they made an early start, and pushed 
bravely forward, after making a poor breakfast by picking 
the bones of the duck. Toward noon they were con- 
fronted by a seemingly impenetrable jungle. 

" We '11 have to turn back now," said Chailey, dole- 

" No, let 's go right ahead," proposed Joe. " We '11 have 
to travel slowly ; but I know we can get through it, and 
maybe when we do get through, we '11 be out of the swamp. 
I 've seen just such places on the edge of the Okefenokee 
from the outside. I think the swamp has a thick rim just 
like this round a great deal of it." 

" Let 's get some fat lightwood splinters for kindling- 
wood," said Charley, " because we may be in that thick 
place all night, and can't start a fire. It's low and wet 
down in there." 

This prudent suggestion was acted upon. They found 
some good lightwood ; and Charley carried the bundle of 


splinters iu addition to the hatchet, as Joe led the way 
with the gun. 

The jungle evidently covered thousands of acres, and 
was for the most part so dense as to be penetrable only 
where wild animals had made their trails. The larger 
forest trees were not altogether absent here; but the jungle 
consisted chielly of smaller trees, shrubs, and vines. 

Among these was the " bamboo brier," a vine sometimes 
an inch thick, armed with thorns which pierce like knives, 
and the tangled growth of which occasionally forms an 
impassable wall ten feet in height. Besides all this, the 
ground was wet and boggy, for the most part indeed covered 
with water varying from two inches to two feet deep. It 
was not a great while before they bitterly regretted their 
decision to force their way through this jungle. 

Often they had to bring the hatchet into use before they 
could move forward even a step ; and their progress was 
so slow that, from about eleven o'clock in the forenoon 
until sundown, they pushed forward hardly more than 
two miles. As the sun declined, they were prey to grow- 
ing uneasiness, but still pressed on. The hope that the 
terminus of the jungle was not far ahead led them for- 
wai'd ; and indeed it was now idle to turn back, as night 
would arrive long ere they could retrace their steps. 

Aware that little more than half an hour of daylight 
was left them, the boys halted at a point where the jungle 
was somewhat less dense than usual in order to make 
some preparations for the night. But even here the w^ater 
rose above their ankles, and the prospect was a very gloomy 


They bad often heard how belated Okefenokee hunters 
had been compelled to build sleeping bowers whereon to 
pass the night, and this they set about doing without delay. 
Selecting two saplings about eight feet apart, they cut 
into them with the hatchet at a point about three feet 
above the water, until they toppled and fell over in tlie 
same direction. These saplings, being young and greeu, 
did not entirely separate from their stumps ; and there- 
fore, while slanting gradually down to the water, offered a 
support to the smaller poles and brush with which the 
boys bridged across from one to the other. The resting- 
place thus secured was extremely uncomfortable, but was 
better than spending the night in a tree, — the only other 
recourse open to them. 

It was now dark, and they attempted to build a fire in 
the hollow of a cypress " knee " within a foot or two of 
their sleeping-bower. But they were unable to gather 
together sufficient dry fuel, and, wisely determining to 
reserve some of tlieir lightwood splinters for an emer- 
gency, the little Hame was presently allowed to die out, 
leaving them in deeper darkness than before. 

As they rested there, scarcely daring to speak above a 
wliisper, they were tliaukful for one thing, — that it was 
yet too early in spring for moccasins and other reptiles 
to be aV)road. This thought was only as a bright ray in 
the gloom, however. 

Lying on an uncomfortable pile of boughs three feet 
above the stagnant water, in hunger and darkness, with- 
out the hope of finding the way home, their distress of 
mind and body was very severe. Charley broke down at 
last, and sobbed himself to sleep. 


Joe made a manful effort to say comforting words, re- 
minding his small brother how often their father had told 
tlieni that all things were for the best in some way ; and 
that the Divine Providence never forgot them. But it 
was difficult to take comfort from these reflections at such 
a time, and Joe himself was painfully depressed. Fatigue 
overcame him, however, and by the time Charley's sobs 
were stilled, he, too, was asleep. 

If there was any tramping of wild animals about their 
camp that night, the boys did not hear it. At an early 
hour of the morning they were awake and preparing to 
push forward, although very far from having recovered 
either from the mental or physical depression of the pre- 
vious night. 

About nine o'clock, to their great delight, they emerged 
from the jungle and ascended the slope of an open pine 
ridge, upon which, at a distance of some three or four 
hundred yards apart, they noted three Indian mounds 
about fifteen feet in height. 

Joe now believed that they were out of the swamp ; 
but a two-hours' tramp was sufficient to convince him that 
they were merely on an island about three miles long by 
one mile in breadth, and that they were probably farther 
away from help tlian ever. 

In the course of their tramp Joe had shot two partridges, 
and the two lost boys were in a measure comforted by the 
thought that they at worst need not starve ; and jDresently 
they made a discovery which brought fresh hope. At the 
farther end of the island, where a dense " hammock " sloped 
down and joined hands with the swamp, which here took 


the form of a flooded forest, they found a boat, — a small 
bateau scarcely capable of floating three persons. Evi- 
dently it had been lying idle for some time. It was half- 
full of water ; but when this was bailed out, it showed no 
serious leaks, and carried the two boys safely. 

" That must lead out to a lake," said Joe, indicating the 
narrow boat-road which could be clearly seen winding away 
through the flooded forest. "And once on that lake, we 
may find our way out of the swamp ! Anyhow, we may 
meet somebody." 

Halting only to build a fire and broil and eat the par- 
tridges, they got aboard the boat with all their belongings, 
and paddled away. The boat-road had evidently been a 
good deal travelled, and it was not very difficult to make 
headway. As Joe had surmised, it led after a few hundred 
yards into a lake, — a long narrow sheet of water which 
was in reality a " dead " river. At its farther end the 
boat-road began again, and wound on its way as before 
through the seemingly endless flooded forest. 

Along here the boys suddenly caught sight of a large 
animal swimming across their path some fifty yards ahead. 
Gazing at it in breathless astonisliment, they quite forgot 
the gun until it was too late to shoot. 

Charley feared it was a panther, but Joe said it was 
probably only a wild-cat. As they neared the spot, he 
stood up, gun in hand ; but the hurrying beast had landed 
in the jungle, and no sign of it could be seen. 

A mile or two farther on, they emerged from the flooded 
swamp upon an extensive open marsh filled with long 
rushes and " bonnets," and dotted with small islands and 


clumps of trees, hung with long gray drifts of Spanish 
moss. As far as the eye could reach, straight ahead, to the 
right or to the left, nothing else was to be seen. 

Here the boys paddled for hours, imagining that they 
were pursuing the same general course, but in reality wan- 
dering widely in the confusion of rounding many little 

At last they saw far ahead the tops of some tall pines, 
and gradually worked their way toward them, surmising 
that they stood either upon a large island or the mainland. 

As they approached within half a mile, a shallow marsh, 
free of clumps of trees or little islands, opened before 
them. In the shallower water here, the rushes and water- 
mosses seemed to thicken steadily as they ueared the shore, 
and it became more and more difficult to force the bateau 
through or over them, although the boys followed the wind- 
ings of a clearly defined boat-trail. 

Finally, within some three hundred yards of the shore, 
or the wall of woods indicating an island, they were com- 
pelled to step out and drag the boat after them, sinking 
now to the knee, now to the waist, in slimy moss, mud, and 

Entering the border of trees, they pushed forward, still in 
water knee-deep, for about a hundred yards, before they 
reached a landing-place where two boats, somewhat larger 
than their own, were moored. 

" There 's somebody here, sure" said Joe, looking about 


THE deserters' CAMP. 

A WELL-BEATEN path led upward througli the dense 
-^^^ hammock between the swamp proper and the pine 
ridge composing the island upon which Joe and Charley had 
disembarked. As it was now near sundown, and the boys 
were painfully hungry, they did not pause to think twice, 
though they looked ahead warily as they followed up the 
path. The hammock growth here was largely of bay and 
magnolia, with a tall underbrush of swamp-cane. Emerg- 
ing from this near the top of the slope, some two hundred 
yards from the boats, they found themselves in a small 
clearing, beyond which the open pine land of the island 
stretched away monotonously. 

Near the centre of the clearing was a house, built of 
rough logs and puncheon boards, aiid elevated some twelve 
feet from the ground on stilt-like posts ; and over a fire to 
the right of this structure bent a man's figure. Evidently 
he was cooking his evening meal, for the boys caught the 
delicious odor of frying meat, 

" Maybe he '11 give us something to eat," said Charley, 

Just then the man stood erect ; and they saw that he 
was a negro, in a dirty homespun shirt and ragged panta- 
loons. A moment later he turned his face toward them. 


" It 's Asa ! " said Joe, astonished. 

The boys hesitated no longer. The negro heard their 
steps, and looked up. The bewildered expression which 
overspread his face changed quickly to one of delight. He 
leaped forward to meet them. 

" Well, well, you bo3's ! " he cried, laughing. " Where 
you-all come fum ? Wut you doiu' yuh ? " 

" What are yotc doing here ? " asked Joe, halting at the 

But Charley broke in to outline in a few hurried words 
the story of their wanderings. He shared all the negro's 
delight in the meeting ; but Joe, though glad enough, had 
not forgotten what he regarded as a very grave matter. 

" What are you doing here ? " he repeated, as soon as 
there was a break in the negro's exclamations. " What 
made you run away, Asa ? " 

" Me run away ! Did you-all tink I run'd away ? " 
asked Asa, an injured look overspreading his face. " De 
'zerters cotch nie an' brung me yuh — /never run'd away. 
No-suh-ree ! One evenin' I was down in de edge o' de 
swamp huntiu' yo' pa's cows', an' de 'zerters run out de 
bushes an' grab me an' tied me an' brung me in yuh, an' 
yuli dey been makin' me do dey cookin' an' all dey dirty 
work. Hit 's de fac'. You des wait an' see now." 

There was an air of sincerity about the negro which 
made the boys believe him. Besides, they remembered 
that he had always been a favorite in the family, and had 
never run away before. 

His color was deep black, and his features were more 
pleasing than those of the average negro, and a certain 


intelligence and gravity of the eye inspired confidence. 
He looked quite young, but his age may liave been any- 
where between twenty-five and forty years. 

" So this is the deserters' island," said Joe, glancing 
around. " How many live here ? " 

" Der 's eight of 'em on dis islan', an' mo' on some de 

" Where are they now ? " 

" Dey ain't come in yet. Some of 'em runuin' a deer, an' 
some gone ter de traps." Asa pointed to the skins hang- 
ing from grape-vines stretched beneath the house, and also 
beneath a low shelter of thatched palmetto fans. " Dey 
in de trappin' business," he added. 

At this moment some one was heard coming through 
the bushes, singing in a peculiar childish voice, — 

" Open the gates as high as the sky 
And let King George's army pass by." 

" Dat 's Billy," said Asa. " He ain't got good sense, you 
see 'im so." 

A barefoot young white man,. clothed in rags, entered 
the clearing at a trot, and ran up to the two boys. Fixing 
his eyes on Joe, he inquired with a giggle, " What 's your 
name ? " When Joe had told him, he turned to Charley 
with the same question. 

His hair was light in color and soft as a child's ; but his 
face was as deeply wrinkled as many an old man's, and 
wore a curious, meaningless smile. His pale blue eyes 
were vacant, yet restless. 

" He is n't a deserter, is he ? " asked Joe of Asa, aside. 


" No ; but he belong to one. He 's Sweet's nigger, an' 
I'm Bubber's/' said Asa, showing his white, even teeth. 
" I waits on Bubber, an' Billy he waits on Sweet. Bubber 
stole me, you know, so I 'm his 'n. I reckon Sweet stole 
Billy, too; he had 'ira yuh waitin' on 'im when I come." 

" Who are they, — Bubber and Sweet ? " 

"Mr. Bubber Hardy an' Mr, Sweet Jackson is de rino-- 
leaders o' de 'zerters," explained Asa. 

In almost every Cracker family there is a " Bubber," — 
a little boy whose brother or sister lisps out " bubber " in 
trying to say brother. Tlie nickname sometimes follows 
an unfortunate boy to manhood. So had it been in the 
case of ''Bubber" Hardy, who, according to Asa, was 
" cock of the walk " among the deserters. He was a great 
stalwart fellow, with a waste of muscle and of a kindly 

Of hardly less importance was " Sweet " Jackson, — 
another illustration of the tenacity of Cracker nursery 
nicknames, — who was second only to Bubber in size, 
muscle, and consequent authority. He was less popular, 
however, being sullen and ill-tempered. 

" When he git mad he don't no mo' mind knockin' Billy 
aroun'," continued Asa, looking toward tlie half-witted boy, 
who was still questioning Charley. " Bubber ginnerly 
give me ter understan' I got ter be spry an' wait on him 
right ; but he don't never jump on me like Sweet do 

Further description of the leading deserters was now 
cut short by the sound of approaching footsteps ; and Asa 
turned hurriedly to the fire, where he had been frying corn- 


bread. The boys looked arouud in time to see a large 
man clad in dirty homespun advance from the borders of 
the darkening woods, a riile over his arm, followed by two 
others carrying a small doe suspended from a stick whicli 
ran across their shoulders. Several dogs accompanied the 

" Dat 's Sweet," whispered Asa, as the leading hunter 

The two men threw the deer down on a carpet of pal- 
metto fans, and immediately began to skin it, merely 
glancing once or twice at the boys. The leading hunter, 
who, according to Asa, was Sweet Jackson, presently 
showed more curiosity. 

" Who-all 's this ? " he cried gruffly, approaching the 
fire. "Billy, git me some water, quick ! Whar did you 
boys come from ? " 

" From Trader's Hill, or very near there," answered 

" An' what you doin' 'way h-yuh in the Okefenokee ? " 
he asked, adding, with a sudden suspicious gleam of the 
eye, " They sont you in to see whar the deserters was, did 
they ? They played thunder if they did." 

" We went hunting in the edge of the swamp and got 
lost," answered Joe, simply. 

" Well, an' how did you git across tlie perrarie ? " 

The boys told him how they had struggled through the 
great marsh. The man asked several more questions, all 
indicating suspicion. 

In the midst of Joe's explanation another party of 
hunters came out of the dark woods, exhibiting an otter 


skin as their only but by no means insignificant trophy. 
Among them was the " cock of the walk," Bubber Hardy. 
Standing in the background long enough to hear the out- 
line of the boys' story, he approached them in a more 
friendly way than any one else had as yet done. 

" How you come on, boys ? " he said, extending his hand 
to Joe. Then, turning to Charley, " This one 's as putty 
as a little gal," he continued, smiling admiringly. " He 
outfavors his brother." 

Charley was highly indignant at this ; but both he and 
Joe felt intuitively that the " cock of the walk " woidd 
prove their best friend among the deserters. As he put a 
few questions to them and listened to their straightforward 
answers, they observed him narrowly. 

He carried an army rifle, like the others, and was dressed 
in homespun, the loose, ill-fitting fabric serving to give 
him the appearance of being heavier than he really was. 
He was above six feet tall, and evidently an uncommonly 
muscular and powerful man. What attracted the boys 
was the kindly gleam of his eye and an expression of quiet 
resolution in his face, which was rather more handsome 
and intelligent-looking than that of any of the others. 
The boys wondered that such a man, who looked brave 
if he was not, should have become a deserter. 

Meanwhile Asa had been busy frying thin strips of the 
fresh venison steak, and now announced that supper was 
ready. The men silently took tlieir places round the fire, 
eating and drinking heartily. 

The boys had not eaten since morning and were raven- 
ously hungry, but did not move from their place, as no 


iuvitation was given them. However, they were not 
neglected. At the biddhig of Bubber, his master, Asa 
invited them to sit on the grass, placed a palmetto leaf 
between them, and piled it high with fried steak and bread. 
Later, he gave each of them a cup of " corn coffee." 

The hapless Billy, who had taken the liberty of appeas- 
ing his hunger before the others began to eat, now lay on 
the ground, singing in an aimless, tuneless sort of way : 

" Meena — myna — mo — 
Ketch a nigger by the toe. 
If he hollers, let him go." 

The young man's mind was evidently still in its childish 
state, and dwelt with delight on nursery rhymes. When 
Joe and Charley had satisfied their craving for food, and 
begun to observe him more closely, he was declaiming : 

" Queerao — quimo — dilmo — day 
Rick — stick — pomididdle — Dido — 
Sally broke the paddle over Mingo's head ! " 

He was beginning, "One-two, buckle my shoe — three- 
four, open the door — five-six, pick-up-sticks," etc., when 
Sweet called his name roughly, and sent him on an errand. 

" What 's the news about the war ? " asked Bubber of 
Joe, as the men lighted their pipes and settled into com- 
fortable lounging positions about the fire. 

"Very bad," the boy answered, with a sudden trembling 
of the lip as he thought of his dead brother, " Everything 
is going against our side." 

" I 'm mighty sorry of it," rejoined Bubber, gazing into 
the fire abstractedly. 


" "Well, I aiu't a-cariu' so much," said Sweet. " ' T aiu't 
none o' my lookout. They kin settle it 'twixt 'em." 

Several of the men grunted approval at the close of this 
speech. Nevertheless, Joe, who was becoming greatly ex- 
cited, dared to bestow a look of contempt on the speaker. 
Then, looking steadily at Bubber, he blurted out, — 

" I don't see how you men can have the heart to stay 
hid in here, when every single man is needed at the front. 
I — I — I 'd be ashamed ! " 

Bubber winced. Sweet sat erect with a threatening look, 
and some of the others uttered ejaculations of astouishmeut. 
Still it was evident that the boy's bolduess had excited 
admiration. Joe, however, did not perceive his advantage, 
and for the time his courage failed him. The pause was 
broken by Sweet. 

"Who's ashamed?" he cried with derision. "I ain't, 
for one. What's the nse o' beatin' an' bangerin' aroun' ? 
'T ain't none o' my quiltiu'. I ain't got no niggers to 
fight for." 

This was too much for Joe. "What's that got to do 
with it ? " he cried indignantly, and began to speak excit- 
edly of State's Eights and other features of the Cause, 
in language borrowed from his father. 

" It 's got a lieap to do with it, I 'm a-thinkin'," Bubber 
Hardy remarked, as the boy paused, conscious of his impru- 
dence. " Them that don't own niggers, like me, naturally 
ain't got the same interest in it. And yit I ain't proud o' 
bein' a deserter — not a bit. But, niggers or no niggers, I 
had good reasons. If anybody thinks I deserted jes' becaze 
I was a-scared to fight, I jes' want him to stand up right 
now and say so." 


After tliis challenge there was a pause. Then Bubber 
began to talk about an occurrence in the day's hunting. 
By and by the conversation dragged. All were becoming 
drowsy. One by one the men rose and disappeared, until 
only Sweet, Bubber, and the two boys were left. Then 
Sweet rose and said to his comrade, — 

" What you aim to do with them boys to-night, Bub- 
ber ? We got to keep our eye on them boys." 

" They '11 sleep with me," said Bubber. 

Shortly after this, Hardy lighted a torch, and bade the 
boys follow him. He led them beneath the curious log- 
house standing so high in the air, — a precaution against 
snakes in summer, — and climbed by a ladder through 
a square opening in the floor. 

Passing the sleeping men, whose hard, wrinkled faces 
seemed somewhat softened in slumber, Hardy led the way 
to the extreme end of the room, and, giving the torch to Joe, 
began to scatter and broaden his really comfortable bed of 
leaves and Spanish moss, so as to make room for the boys 
between himself and the wall. 

Before the light was put out, 'Charley inquired where 
Asa slept, and was told that at night he was kept shut up 
in a little room at the opposite end of the long sleeping 
apartment. There was no window in all the structure, 
l)ut enough air entered between the logs of the walls and 
through the door in the floor. 

The boys were too weary to waste much time in worry- 
ing about their situation, and soon forgot everything in 
sound sleep. 



WHEX Joe and Charley awoke next morning, they 
were alone in the sleeping-loft. Descending the 
ladder, they found Asa at the fire with something for them 
to eat ; and after they had washed their hands and faces, 
Asa pouring water for them, they ate heartily. All but 
two or three of the deserters had gone off to the traps, 
or hunting, and these two or three were nowhere to be 
seen just now. By the time Joe and Charley had made a 
breakfast, however, Bubber appeared. 

" Well, boys, what you aim to do ? " he asked in a 
friendly way. 

" I '11 tell you what I 'd like to do," said Joe, earnestly, 
encouraged by his tone, " and that is, persuade you, and 
as many of the rest as I could, to give up this — this de- 
serting — and go back to the war again." 

Bubber laughed outright. " I depend you 've laid out 
to do a big job of work," said he ; " most too big, I reckon. 
Better give it up. Better jes' stay h-yer a while with us, 
and learn to hunt." 

"I wouldn't mind staying a while if — if there was a 
chance of persuading — " 

" But ther' ain't, though, so you 'd better not bother your 
head about it, son." 



" Well, then, all I can do is to take Charley and Asa 
and go home." 

Bubber laughed again, more heartily than before. 

" I don't much think the other gents '11 be willin' to 
part with you and Charley yet a while. They loves com- 
p'ny, you know ! We all talked it over this mornin'. 
And as for the nigger — well, I don't see hardly how I 
could spare him." 

" He 's not your negro," cried Joe, indignantly. " He 
belongs to my father, and I 'm goin' to take him, too." 

" He b'longs to your father, shore enough," rejoined 
Bubber ; " but, you see, I borryed him, and as they use to 
tell me, possession is nine points of the law." 

Joe turned away angrily, and, calling to Asa, bade him 
make ready to start for home. He was too nmch excited 
to see how utterly powerless be was. 

"I glory in your spunk, boy," remarked Bubber, quietly, 
" but I think you are wastin' it. If I was in your place, 
I 'd know better than to be so rambunctious." 

Joe made no reply, and repeated his order to the doubt- 
ful, hesitating negro. 

" Listen to me," said Bubber, sharply. " If you walk off 
from h-yer with that nigger, it won't be five minutes 
before he '11 be knocked down and dragged back, and you 
and Charley '11 be put under lock and key. I don't say 
I HI do it, but it'll be done I " 

Joe now began to realize his position. Not merely was 
Asa a prisoner in the deserters' hands, but he nnd Charley 
as well. The latter could control himself no longer, and 
began crying. 


" Look h-yer," said Bubber, " if we was to let you and 
that uigger go, fust thing we 'd know you 'd be guidiu' a 
company of soldiers to this h-yer islant, and the last one of 
us would be led out and shot." 

Joe was conscious of a strong impulse to bind himself 
by a solemn promise against any such action, but checked 
it as weak and unworthy, as he thought of all that was 

" If you '11 agree to leave the uigger and say nothin' to 
nobody when you git home," continued Bubber, as if 
divining the boy's thoughts, " maybe after a while I kin 
persuade the boys to let me take you across the perrarie 
and put you on the trail to Trader's Hill." 

" I won't agree," said Joe, stoutly, although tears started 
in his eyes, and Charley's sobs were louder than before. 

" All right. You '11 stay right h-yer, then ! " 

So ended their conference. 

" Never mind, Charley ; don't cry," said Joe, bravely, as 
soon as Bubber was out of hearing. " We'll just have to 
watch our chance and make our escape, that 's all. Have 
you tried to escape yet, Asa ? " 

Asa answered with a grunt that he had tried it once. 
He had gone one day with three of the deserters in two 
boats to the country across the " prairie " in order to cut a 
bee-tree, and while there had made a dash for liberty ; but 
he was soon caught, and the whipping he had received 
was a warning not easily forgotten. He had never tried 
it again. 

" Well, we must watch our chance," Joe repeated. 

But before the day was gone he realized that the op- 


portunities likely to occur would be few aud far between. 
The boys were free to walk about the camp, but M-ere 
always under watch. While the rest of the men were 
away hunting and trapping, at least two were always in 
sight, either inspecting their stock of hides, or lounging 
about lazily, drinking corn-beer of their own brewing, and 
telling yarns. Asa was also free to come and go within 
certain bounds ; but when he was not eniiaofed in brinmngr 
wood and water, cooking the meals, or waiting on Bubber, 
he generally lay tamely on the grass in the sun and dozed. 

A certain sympathy and friendship existed between him 
and the half-witted Billy. They were fellows in mis- 
fortune. But after the coming of Joe and Charley the 
hapless youth transferred his attention to them. Charley 
particularly seemed to please Billy. He hung about the 
camp daring all of that first day, talking sense and non- 
sense alternately, and repeating many nursery rhymes. 

" I like you," he said to Charley once. " Some o' these 
days I 'm goin' to take you to see son." 

" You have n't a sou ! " said Charley, laughing. 

"Wait till I show him to you, and you'll see." 

" Who is he ? " 

" Never you mind," answered Billy, almost exploding 
with mirth. " You '11 find out some day ; you '11 find out, 
boy. I must go and see son now," he added later, with 
his strange laugh, and walked off into the woods. 

All the deserters but Bubber and Sweet went away 
early the next morning, — some to hunt, others to visit the 
many traps which had been set here and there on the 
island and in the surrounding swamp. 


Asa had just finished his labors after breakfast, and 
Bubber was lounging near, talking amicably with Joe and 
Charley about hunting, when Sweet walked up and asked : 

" You goiu' to use Asy this mornin', Bubber ? " 

" Not partic'lar." 

" Well, I 'd like to borry him. I 'm goin' to build me a 
permeter shelter for my owu hides, so I kin spread 'em out 

" All right." 

Thereupon Asa, who, it would appear, might be " used " 
and " borrowed " like any inanimate thing, was led away 
in company with Billy. Their business was now to cut 
down one six-inch sapling for posts, and several two-inch 
ones wherewith to frame the slanting roof which these 
posts would support. This done, they must gather 
hundreds of palmetto fans and thatch the roof, all under 
the direction of the ill-tempered Sweet. 

The three had been thus engaged some thirty minutes 
when Bubber, Joe, and Charley, at the camp, heard sounds 
of blows and screams. A few steps toward the spot se- 
lected for the palmetto shelter revealed the cause of the 

Sweet, completely out of patience with the half-witted 
and trifling Billy, had fallen upon him, and was whipping 
him with a long supple stick. As he laid on his blows 
more and more fiercely, in spite of his victim's piteous 
cries, the boys drew near in horror, slowly followed by 

" Stop that ! " cried Joe, hotly, as he arrived on the 


" I '11 Stop when I git ready ! " retorted Sweet, in a fury, 
pausing for a moment, " And if you give me any yo' 
sass, I depend I '11 wallop you in the bargain. You 're 
'most too spargy for me, anyhow. You 're gittin' too big 
for yo' breeches." 

"You coward !" cried Joe, as the blows recommenced. 
" You ought to be ashamed to beat that poor half- 
witted — " 

Here Sweet suddenly let Billy go, and turned upon Joe 
with uplifted stick. 

" Hit him if you dare ! " said Bubber, stepping up to 

" 'T ain't none o' yo' business, Bubber Hardy ! " cried 
Sweet, threateningly, turning to meet the new attack. 

" Hit 's everybody's business when you jump on that 
poor boy Billy that way. You know he ain't accountable." 

" I reckon I 've got a right to thrash him if he won't 
work ! I kin hardly make him lift his hand to do a thing, 
and wlien he does work he works so powerful sorry — " 

" I thought you was more of a man, Sweet Jackson." 

" I depend I 'm man enougli- to give you all you 
want ! " the man replied with an oath, making a threaten- 
ing movement. 

Bubber caught one end of the uplifted stick ; it broke 
between them, and they closed in hand-to-hand combat. 
Luckily, neither was armed ; if either had been, blood- 
shed nmst have followed. As it was, tliey were well 
matched, and it was evident that tlie fight must be a long 

Joe was too much absorbed in the conflict to see the 


opportunity which it offered ; but Asa, less excited by such 
a scene, thought more quickly. 

" Now de time ! " whispered the negro, in a low, cautious 
voice over Joe's shoulder. " Less slip off an' run down to 
de boats. Ef we git dem boats, we kin git away. You 
an' Charley kin take one, an' Billy one, an' me one. Ef we 
git out on dat prairie 'mongst dem islants, we out o' dey 
reach. Dey can't come atter us far widout a boat." 

The negro began to move away, calling softly, " Come 
on, Charley ! " and beckoning in a commanding way to 
Billy. Neither Charley nor Billy understood what he 
meant, but both were attracted by his mysterious manner, 
and followed him. 

Joe hesitated, his glance returning to the two com- 
batants. He wondered if it were quite lionorable to sneak 
away while Bubber was fighting in his cause as well as 
Billy's. Still, he and Charley and Asa and Billy were 
unjustly held prisoners, and if there was a real chance of 
escape, why not go ? 

The boy thouglit of his parents, of his sister, of his dead 
soldier brother, of the cowardly men who had deserted in 
the hour of direst need, — after all, the kindly Bubber was 
only one of these. This decided Joe. The boy saw that 
Asa was now as far as tlie camp, and Billy and Charley 
were close behind him. Charley caught Joe's eye, and 
beckoned. Slipping behind a clump of bushes, Joe ran to 
the spot where his gun stood. 

Passing the camp, Asa caught up a tin bucket of sliced 
venison and an axe, then darted along the winding path 
through the swamp cane toward the boat landing. As Joe 


hurried along the same path a few moments later in pur- 
suit of them, he halted suddenly at sight of Asa and the 
others returning. Charley looked crestfallen, but Billy 
was giggling as usual. He liad not understood what they 
were doing, but willingly followed, supposing some game 
had been proposed. 

" De boats all gone," said Asa, sorrowfully. " Mr. 
Thatcher an' Mr. Lofton must 'a' took 'em ter go ter dey 

" Let 's hurry back, then," said Joe, after a few moments' 
blank pause, " so that they won't know we tried to 

The run to the boat landing and back, a distance of 
little more than two hundred yards, had scarcely consumed 
five minutes, and the four spectators were again on the 
scene of the fight before the combatants had noticed their 
absence. They returned just in time to see Sweet strike 
the ground heavily beneath the weight of his antagonist, 
who now partly rose, placing his knees upon the breast of 
the vanquished. 

" You got enough ? " shouted .Bubher. " If you ain't, I 
kin break ever' bone in your body 'fore I quit." 

Sweet said nothing, but ceased to struggle. Presently 
Bubber let go his hold, and rose. 

" I '11 git even with you yit," said Sweet, with a black 
look, as he painfully gathered himself up. " You can't git 
away with me that easy." 

The victor disdained a retort, and M-alked back to the 
camp, followed by the two boys, leaving Sweet to vent his 
uncomfortable feelings in threatening curses. 

|^> :^t $^'N^ 


Ki^-, *;'^V'> ^^1 J \r.i 

%■ ^^; . ^^jfe. ;■ 

They returned just in time to see Sweet strike the ground heavily, 
beneath the wei^lit of his antagonist. — /''J;^'''' 40. 


The round of camp life was taken up again as if nothing 
had happened. A week passed, during which no further 
opportunity to escape presented itself. Each day wit- 
nessed a gradual weakening of Joe's resolve not to make 
the promise required by the chief of his captors. 

Thoughts of his father, his mother, his sister, haunted 
the boy ; what would they think when they returned home 
and found that he and Charley had gone, no one could tell 
where ? Had the people at home not grief and anxiety 
enough already ? Ten days had now passed since they 
had gone down the river, and probably they were at home 
by this time. Perhaps they were even now searching for 
the lost boys. It was difficult to hold out, tormented by 
these thoughts. 

The boys had been just one week on Deserters' Island, 
when one morning Joe said to Bubber, — 

" If you '11 let us go, Mr. Hardy, I '11 promise you I 
won't guide anybody back here, or tell where you are." 

" I reckoned you 'd say that bimeby," answered Bubber. 

" If you'll take us across the prairie and put us on the 
trail to Trader's Hill, we '11 leave Asa and won't inform 
against you. It 's wrong to do it," Joe added ; " but I 
must do it on account of my mother and father ; they have 
trouble enough without this." 

Hardy was vastly amused at Joe's air of condescension, 
and smiled grimly. " If I was a mind to, I might devil * 
you a little," he said, " but I won't. I '11 go talk it over 
with the boys," he added. 

He did talk it over with " the boys," as he called the 

* Cracker for tease. 


Other deserters ; aud later in the day he informed Joe that 
it could not be done. The other men refused to consent. 

" I reckon you boys will have to put up with our com- 
pany a while longer," Bubber said to them with a twinkle 
of the eye. " You must n't think I was jes' devillin' you," 
he added seriously. "I'mwilliu' to take your word and 
let you go, specially as ther's mighty little likelihood of 
yer ever bein' able to find yer way in h-yer again. But 
the rest of 'em won't risk it." 

At first Joe and Charley were very angry, the former 
not hesitating to show it ; but they soon cooled down, and 
became very much depressed. 

" Never mind," said Joe to Charley and Asa later ; 
" maybe we '11 make our escape before long anyhow, aud 
then we '11 be free to tell the soldiers where to find them." 

Another week passed, — a wearying waste of time, during 
which the young prisoners were a prey to growing anxiety. 
They were never allowed to go out of sight of camp, ex- 
cept now and then to follow a deer-liunt, in the company 
of half-a-dozen men. 

They were not ill-treated : they. were well fed ; they slept 
warm and dry at night ; they found some amusement in 
hunting, in Billy's follies, in listening to Asa's tales and 
to the deserters' yarns. But every hour they chafed, and 
were constantly proposing plans and watching for oppor- 
tunities to escape. 



ONE morning about two o'clock a large animal came 
close to the camp, probably attracted by the refuse 
of a deer's carcass ; and all hands were roused by the 
furious baying of the dogs. Snatching up their guns, the 
deserters to the last man sallied out and followed in pur- 
suit. Billy ran after them, and Joe and Charley were left 
alone with Asa. 

The eager hunters were hardly two hundred yards away 
before Joe and Asa looked at each other significantly 
across the camp-fire, now stirred to a bright blaze. They 
began their preparations without a word and without a 
moment's delay. Joe took his gun, Charley his hatchet, 
and Asa collected some eatables in a bucket and picked 
up an axe. 

They were still at the fire when the sound of footsteps 
startled them, and a voice shouted, — 

" Bubber says you all come, too. Come on, quick ! 
Ever' las' one of ye." 

The two men who had hurriedly returned on this errand 
halted as soon as they were within call, and waited im- 
patiently to be joined by the negro and the boys, evidently 
afraid they niiglit miss seeing the game run to earth. 


Xothirig but the fear that the boys might run away and 
betray them could have induced them to return. 

The two boys and the negro exchanged glances ; clearly 
there was no help for it. Armed as they were, they 
moved forward at the bidding of the two deserters, Asa 
delaying only to drop the bucket of food out of sight in 
the bushes. 

The cause of the excitement, which proved to be a bear, 
had beaten a hasty retreat toward the centre of the island, 
and there, being hard pressed, climbed a tall pine. By 
the time the hunters reached the spot, the bear had com- 
fortably ensconced himself among the clustering boughs 
at the top. Nothing could be done now until daylight, and 
the hunters proceeded to make themselves comfortable. 
Several fires were built, forming a circle around the tree, 
in order to make sure that the bear would remain where 
he was in case the watchers should fall asleep. 

Then Asa was sent back to camp, in the company of 
two men, to bring a jug of corn-beer and something to eat. 
The besiegers had a merry time of it during the three 
hours of waiting. Even Joe and Charley forgot their dis- 
appointment in their absorbed interest in what was taking 
place. The treeing of a bear in a tall pine after this 
fashion was considered a very remarkable occurrence by 
even those deserters who were old hunters. Several de- 
clared that they had never seen anything like it. 

" The old Okefenokee is the place to run up on curious 
things," said Bubber Hardy, musingly. (He pronounced 
the word " Oke-fe-noke." ) He was lounging on the grass 
near one of the fires, the two boys and several of the 
men in his company. 


" I 've seeu a heap o' strange things in this phace," he 
continued, " when I use to come in h-3'er huutin' before 
the war broke out. I reckon you boys would n't believe 
me, would you, if I was to tell you I seen a catfish whip 
a moccasin in h-yer one time ? " 

The men lauglied incredulously, but demanded the 

Bubber showed no haste to satisfy their curiosity, 
quietly drinking a long draught of corn-beer from a gourd 
passed to him by Asa. " Gini-me a chaw 0' tobaccer," he 
then requested of his nearest neighbor, who was known as 
Zack Lofton. 

" I ain't got none with me," was the apologetic response, 
which evidently failed to carry conviction. 

" You never do have none ivith you, looks like to me," 
said Bubber, smiling rather coldly. " Lofton is about as 
stingy as they make 'em," he added, addressing the others. 
" I believe he 'd skin a flea for its hide and tallow." 

Lofton did not enjoy the general laugh which greeted 
this pleasantry ; and if any other man present but the 
" cock of the walk " had uttered it, he would have given 
him the lie very promptly. As it was, he contented him- 
self with retorting in an injured tone, — 

" You'v^e chawed a heap o' my baccer, Bubber Hardy." 

Being provided by some one else with the desired 
" chaw," Bubber proceeded to tell his story. It was, in 
substance, that he had once seen a moccasin spring upon 
a catfish in a shallow lagoon of the swamp, and promptly 
get "whipped;" that is to say, disastrous consequences 
resulted from the snake's attempt to swallow its prey. 


For the fish immediately " popped " its formidable fins 
through the reptile's throat, and all efforts on the part of 
the latter to disgorge its victim proved futile. 

" I depend that moccasin reared from away back and 
■was as vigeous a snake as you ever laid eyes on," Bubber 
declared, with a laugh ; " but it bit off more 'n it could chaw, 
shore enough, that time." 

He wound up by saying that the snake crawled off 
rapidly out of sight ; but several hours later, returning past 
the same neighborhood, he found it lying dead, the tail 
of the fish still protruding from its mouth and the fins 
visibly transfixing its neck. The catfish still lived, and 
Bubber was induced to go to the trouble of liberating it. 

Hardy's listeners had expected a jest, but they accepted 
the story as matter of fact, or at any rate as probable 
enough; and no one presumed to give expression to 
doubts, if any were felt. 

This was the beginning of much spinning of yarns, — 
some of them quite remarkable, — which amusement, witli 
intervals devoted to jesting and discussion on suggested 
topics, was kept up until daylight. 

"That ain't ez strange as some things I've seen in the 
Oke-fe-noke," said a thin wiry little man known as Bud 
Jones. Although a white man, and apparently not lack- 
ing in " hard " common-sense, he was noted for his firm 
belief in witchcraft. 

With this introduction to his tale, he went on very 
seriously to relate how a charmed deer had come " right 
up " to Idni three times in the swamp one day, and how 
he had tried to shoot it down in vain. He assured his 


hearers that if he could have mouhied a silver bullet 
and shot that, he would have been successful. He had 
heard that the like had been done in a similar case, but 
admitted that the authorities differed as to the result ; 
some said that the charmed deer had thus been brought 
to earth, but others claimed that upon the discharge of 
the mysterious silver bullet the animal had vanished 
away "right there in the broad open day." 

In proof of the reality and efficacy of charms, Bud 
Jones related further how once, long ago, his own mother 
had sickened, and was afflicted with great fear of a certain 
old woman in her neighborhood ; how, at last, some one 
advised her to wear red pepper in her shoes, and, having 
done so, how she promptly recovered her health and was 
relieved of all further apprehension. 

Bubber Hardy and most of the others smiled incredu- 
lously at this story ; but Asa listened witli a solemn face 
and absorbed attention. 

" Dat 's de trufe, you year me,"' he declared in a low 
earnest aside to Joe. " A 'oman put bad mouf on me dat-a 
way one time, and I tell you she everlas'nly gim-me de 
devil, too." 

" You ought to have more sense, Asa," was the unsym- 
pathizing reply. 

"Well, Joe, what's the strangest thing you've seen in 
the Oke-fe-noke ? " asked Biibber, after several other men 
had related more or less startling experiences. 

The boy felt like replying, in substance, that the 
strangest, most unaccountable, most infamous sight he had 
seen in the great swamp was a party of able-bodied men 


in hiding, once called soldiers, who had deserted their 
posts of duty in the hour of greatest need. Prudence, 
however, restrained him. 

"I haven't seen as much of it as the rest of you," lie 
said modestly, after a moment's thought; "but the stran- 
gest story about it I ever heard was the one father said the 
Indians used to tell a hundred years ago." 

" Less hear it," cried several. 

So Joe, after his own boyish fashion, relatad the old 
Indian legend which pictured the remote interior of the 
Okefenokee as a high and dry land, and one of the most 
blissful sj)ots of earth, where dwelt beautiful w^omen called 
daughters of the Sun. Some warriors of the Creek nation, 
lost in the interminable bogs and jungles, and confronted 
with starvation and despair, were once on a time rescued 
and lovingly cared for by these radiant creatures. And ere 
the belated warriors were led out of the confusing laby- 
rinths and sent on tlieir way, they were fed bountifully 
with dates, oranges, and corn-cake. There may have been 
other good things, but Joe's memory could vouch for only 
the dates, oranges, and corn-cake. 

Joe remembered that his father had said it was a ])ity 
that ambrosia was not substituted for the last item. Corn- 
cake is doubtless a good and useful thing in its own way ; 
but something a little less commonplace would seem more 
fitting in the realm of legend. Tlie maize, however, was 
])robably regarded by the Creek Indian as one of the most 
precious and useful gifts of the gods, and therefore not 
unworthy of a place in this legend of the daughters of the 
Sun who dwelt in the great Okefenokee. 


The deserters one and all seemed interested in the story, 
and paid Joe the compliment of inviting him to tell an- 
other, — an invitation which he modestly declined. 

The fires were now replenished, further draughts of beer 
were drunk, fresh pipes were lighted, and the spinners of 
yarns began another series devoted to the " tight scrapes " 
in which they had found themselves occasionally in the 
Okefenokee. One man told of a deadly hand-to-hand 
conflict with a wounded bear ; another of a thrilling un- 
armed fight with a wild- cat ; a third related how he had 
once sunk down suddenly to his armpits in the "prairie," 
how he had saved himself by grasping the growth on a small 
tussock within arm's length, and how he was confronted 
there, before he could drag himself out, by an angry moc- 
casin, which luckily he shot. 

" Talkin' 'bout tight scrapes puts me in mind o' the time 
I went tiger-huntin' with Seth Mixon," spoke up Zack 
Lofton, who had said little till now. 

" Tiger-h\x.nt\n ? " repeated Joe, in astonishment. " There 
are no tigers in this country." 

" I depend if I ain't seen a tiger in this swamp more 'n 
once in my time, and ez survigeous a beast ez you want 
to run up on, my name ain't Lofton ! " was the emphatic 

" Some calls *em tigers, but they ain't nothin' but pan- 
thers," explained Bubber Hardy. 

" Me and Seth come in at the Pocket on t' other side," 
continued Lofton, referring to a peninsula extending about 
ten miles into the Okefenokee on the western side, near 
the point where the fameil Suwanee emerges from the 



great swamp, its mother, a sluggish little river of dark, wine- 
colored water. " It 's fifteen years ago now and better. 
We got in ez fur ez Billy's Islant by niglit and camped 
there ; and that night we heard a curious hoUerin' in 
the swamp that sounded a little like a poor-job, and a 
little bit like a cryin' baby, and we knowed it must be a 

Accordingly, very soon after breaking camp next morn- 
ing they saw panther signs. But the dog soon lost the 
scent, the panther, like the wild-cat, being accustomed to 
traverse the jungle less perhaps afoot than on high among 
the interlacing branches. It was now proposed that the 
two hunters separate, agreeing to hail each otlier after a 
certain length of time. 

Half an hour later, as Lofton stole guardedly through a 
clump of tall bushes and, thus screened, looked across a 
small, comparatively open space, he observed a curious 
agitation of the underbrush about fifty yards distant. Leap- 
ing to the conclusion that the panther was there, and de- 
ciding to risk a chance shot, he raised his gun, and was 
taking aim at the swaying branches, when he received a 
sudden stunning blow which knocked him off his feet. As 
he fell, he was conscious of the sound of a gun's report, and 
of a stinging, tearing pain in his right shoulder. He had 
been shot. 

" I groaned and kicked powerful lively," said Lofton, 
with a grim smile; "but wlien another load o' buck-shot 
came a whistlin' thoo them bushes right over my head, I 
laid there mighty still. I gethered my gun, tliough — with 
my left hand — and ef I could 'a' got at that blasted fool. 


Seth Mixon, right then, he 'd 'a' h-yeard from me. I was 
so mad I a'most believed he shot me a-purpose." 

He was, however, prudent enough to call out ; and the 
horrified Mixon ran to him, protesting that he thought he 
was shooting the " tiger " ! 

" I come mighty nigh makin' the same mistake, but I 
got fightin' mad all the same," Lofton declarea, with some- 
thing of regret ; " and I depend I give Seth Mixon a piece 
o' my mind that day. I got u]5 and tried to walk home, 
but had to lay down agin', and kep' gittin' weaker and 
weaker. Mixon said the only thing to do was for him to 
go and git a horse and put me on it, but I 'd have to lay 
there the best part of a day 'fore he could git back. I told 
him to cut out, and off lie went, blazin' the trees behiud 
him. It want long 'fore I felt sort o' numb like, and dreckly 
I sort o' dozed off — fainted, I reckon. I 'd clean forgot 
about the tioer ; but when I come to I 'membered it a^in 
mighty quick. 

" I knowed sump'n was up soon ez I seen my dog fidgetin' 
aroun' and whinin'. The hair was up straight on his back, 
and his tail was 'tween his legs. But soon as ever he seen 
me stirrin' he showed more spunk, and commenced to bark 
at some thick brush 'bout forty foot off. I knowed right 
off it was the tiger, and that it smelt my blood and was 
after me. Dreckly I seen its tail workin' back and forth 
up on a high limb, and I knowed it was fixin' to jump." 

Observing that every one around the fire was listening 
intently, Lofton took a fresh chew of tobacco, and went on 
to tell how, for some little time longer, he lay perfectly 
quiet, fearing that the slightest movement would be the 


signal for the attack. At length, unable longer to bear 
the suspense, he partly raised himself up, grasping his gun 
with his left hand. 

The moment he did so, the panther tore through the 
obstructing branches with a horrible growl, and sprang at 
him. But the distance was too great, and the beast struck 
the earth some ten feet away. Before it gathered itself for 
another leap, the dog had sprung forward in defence of his 
fallen master. 

" Then they had it, nip and tuck, tooth and nail, and sich 
howlin' and snarlin' I never h-yeard in all my born days." 

Struggling to his knees, Lofton managed to cock his gun 
and raise it to his shoulder with his left hand and arm ; but 
he hesitated to pull the trigger, fearing to shoot his dog. 
For the two animals, fighting to the death, were never still 
for one moment, now here, now there, backward and for- 
ward, now rolling over on the ground and gradually nearing 
the wounded man. In a short time it was evident that the 
dog was failing. 

" I was shore my time hed come," said Lofton, solemnly, 
" but I held my gun and watched my chance. They kep' 
a-comin' closer, a-wheelin' roun', and dreckly the tiger made 
a jump and fetched herself and the dog with her in three 
feet o' me ; and, sir, I leaned over quick ez a flash and put 
the muzzle o' my gun right spang aginse the back side o' 
her head, and blazed away. 

" Well, mebby you won't believe it, men, but that cat 
jumped right straight up ten or twelve foot high, jerkin' 
loose from the dog. When T seen her comin' down, look to 
me like she was comin' right for me, and I sort o' give up 


aud went off agia. You see, I 'd been bleedin' like a hog, 
and was mighty weak. 

" And what you reckon ? When I come to, the tiger 
was layin' dead on one side o' me, and the dog putty uigli 
dead on t' other. I thought he was dead at first, and I 
a'most broke down and cried. I dunner how long I laid 
there ; I did n't have no sense left scacely, and it was a 
mighty good thing another tiger did n't come along that 

" By and by I heard 'em comin' thoo the swamp •, and 
when they got to me and lifted me up and put me on the 
horse, and one o' Seth Mixon's boys says, ' Shoot that dog 
and put him out'n his mizry,' I up an' spoke a piece o' my 
mind, and I made 'em strap that dog on the horse behind 
me 'fore I was done. 

"Well," Lofton concluded, gazing absently into the fire, 
" they got ns home, and we both got well atter a while, — 
me aud the dog ; but ther 's a buck-shot or two in my 
shoulder yit, and sometimes it hurts me so I kin scacely 
strike a lick o' work. You mer say what you please, but 
that was the tightest scrape I was ever in." 

"So that's what makes you lame in the right arm ? I 
always thought you got that wound in the war," remarked 
Bubber Hardy. 

Joe and Charley were both intensely interested in this 
story, acceptiug it without question ; but the former now 
noted a slightly sceptical expression on the face of the " cock 
of the walk," who evidently cherished no admiration for 

" Day 's a-breakin' ! " some one called out at this moment ; 


and the loungers about the fire sprang to their feet, turning 
their eyes toward the top of the pine, where the bear had 
taken refuge. 

As soon as there was sufficient light to outline the black 
bulky form among the branches, the hunters opened fire, 
one at a time, and at the thirteenth shot the big game came 
tumbling down, striking the earth with tremendous force. 

The bear measured seven inches across the ball of the 
foot, and three inches through the fat on the round, and 
the total weight was calculated at not less than four hun- 
dred pounds. The skin was carefully taken off, many 
pounds of the choicest meat sliced to dry, and the rest of 
the carcass left where it was for the vultures. When the 
sun was some two hours high, all hands, in great good 
humor, returned to camp and partook of the hot breakfast 
which Asa had now prepared. 



AFTER eating a heavy breakfast, most of the deserters 
lay down on the grass in the shade and went to sleep- 
Joe, too, felt drowsy after the unwonted loss of sleep occa- 
sioned by the bear-hunt, and presently followed the exam- 
ple of his captors. Thus Charley and the lialf-witted Billy 
were left alone with Asa, who busied himself washing the 
pots and pans over the fire. 

"We had such a good chance last night," remarked 
Charley, regretfully, — "if only they had n't remembered 
and sent for us. Did n't we, Asa ? " 

" Xum-mind," said Asa, consolingly ; " we '11 git another 
chance. Some dese days dey '11 clean fergit us, an' we '11 
gie 'em de slip. We '11 lead 'em a race some dese days." 

"A chance to run a race?" asked Billy, vaguely. "Is 
that what you want ? I '11 run a race with you right now." 
His vacant eyes quickened with a sudden enthusiasm. 

"We didn't want to run a race^^ answered Charley, dis- 

Suddenly the half-witted young man leaned over toward 
Charley, and said to him in a low voice, with the air of 
one conferring a priceless favor, — 


" Would you like to come now and see son ? Say, boy ? " 

" Who is ' son ' ? " asked Charley, curiously, " Yes ; I 'd 
like to see him." 

" Come on, then." 

Asa was now engaged in vigorously scraping one of his 
pans, and did not overhear this. When he looked up again 
from his work, Charley and Billy had risen and walked 
away. The latter, who had fished out of his pocket a 
small wriggling frog and carried it in his hand, led the way 
through the woods about a quarter of a mile, halting at 
last near the clay-covered roots of a large pine that had 
fallen during a storm. At the base of this was a small 
round hole in the earth, and here Billy fell on his knees, 
and began repeating in a strange, monotonous, coaxing 
voice, — 

" Doodle, doodle, come out your hole ! Doodle, doodle, 
come out your hole ! " 

Tliese are the mystic words popularly believed among 
the children of the Southern States to be potent to call 
forth from ambush the ant-lion, which crafty insect pre- 
pares over its nest a kind of pitfall for ants. Charley saw 
at a glance that this was no ant-lion's pitfall. 

"That's not a doodle-hole; that's a snake's hole," he 
exclaimed, stepping backward. And indeed the hole was 
hardly less than two inches in diameter. 

Billy made no reply, and continued witliout intermis- 
sion his peculiar recitation of the supposed charm. 

" I hear him a-comin'," he said softly, at last. Then, in 
a gentle, caressing voice, he continued, " Come on, son ; 
come on, son." 


In a few moments a large rattlesnake glided out of the 
hole, and seized the frog from Billy's fingers. Charley 
backed rapidly away, and sprang upon a log, but Billy did 
not move from his place, and showed no fear whatever. 

" Come away from there ! " cried Charley, all amazement. 
" You Billy — that snake will bite you ! " 

" Son won't bite me," replied Billy, confidently. " Son 
knows me. You neenter be a-scared, boy ; son won't hurt 
you if I tell him not to." 

So this was "son," — this was the great mystery which 
poor Billy had seemed so to delight in ! 

" If you don't come away, I won't stay here," cried Char- 
ley, urgently. He was really alarmed for Billy's safety, 
being convinced that as soon as the snake had swallowed 
the frog, the foolish boy would be bitten. 

After begging him again and again to come away, Char- 
ley jumped down from the log and hurried back to camp. 
He thought he ought to inform Sweet or Bubber at once, 
but they were asleep ; and by the time he had detailed the 
story to Asa, the witless snake-charmer himself appeared 

" Lem-me tell you one thing," commented Asa, M'ith a 
serious face, as soon as Charley had made him acquainted 
with the facts : "you let dat Billy hoe his own row. Play 
wid 'im roun' de camp much ez you like, but don't you go 
foolin' long atter him roun' dese woods. He ain't got good 
sense, an' he '11 git you inter trouble sho 's you born." 

" Look yuh, Billy," he asked, as the latter approached 
and took his place at Charley's side, " ain't you got no bet- 
ter sense 'n ter prodjick wid a rattlesnake dat-a way ? " 


" What made you tell ? " asked Billy, reproachfully, of 

" Dat snake goiii' to bite you au' kill you ef you don't 
mind," continued Asa, severely. 

"Don't you fret," said Billy, giggling immoderately. 
" Son knows me." 

"When they were all tellin' stories round the fire this 
mornin', why did n't you tell one, too, Asa ? " asked Charley, 
when the subject of Billy's snake had been dropped. 

" Nobody did n't ax me," replied Asa, with a guffaw. " I 
could 'a' tole 'em 'bout how a 'oman put bad mouf on me 
an' kunjud me one time, but dey didn't ax me." 

" Well, you can tell us now, can't you ? " 

The negro was by this time beginning his preparations 
for dinner. He now sat on the grass near Charley, rapidly 
removing the feathers from a wild turkey which one of the 
men had shot on the previous day. 

" I ain't got time nohow," he replied ; "but ef I was to 
tell you any tale I ought to tell you dat 'n Unker Tony use 
ter tell de chillun 'bout de tuckey-gobbler an' de rattle- 
snake, De way Billy been foolin' wid dat snake dis mornin' 
put me in mind o' Unker Tony's tale, an' ef he don't look 
out he gwine to come out like de tuckey did, too." 

" Oh, tell it ; you 've got time," urged Charley, " May- 
be it'll make Billy have more sense." 

" 'T ain't no great tale," said Asa, by way of introduction, 

■ having been induced to begin. " Hit 's des a tale to tell 

bigity chillun when dey git too mannish. Unker Tony say 

one time, way back yonder, when de tuckey use ter be de 

mose proudes' bird in de woods, a ole tuckey-gobbler 'uz 


comiii' long, an' fuss ting he know he run up on a rattle- 
snake. De tuckey strut long so bigity, wid he tail spread 
out so fine an' he head reared up so high, he did n't hardly 
see de rattlesnake, an' look like he gwine walk straight 
on over him. 

" Eattlesnake shake lie rattle — z-z-z-z-z-z ! — an' he say 
'Don't yer walk on me; don't yer walk on me dis 
morn in' ! ' 

" Tuckey-gobbler look down at 'im out de cawner he eye, 
an' he say : ' Eh ? Was you speakin' to me ? ' Den he 
look hard at de rattlesnake an' mek out like he so little he 
don't know 'im, an' den he turn up he nose an' laugh to 
hisself an' come a-walkin' right on. 

" Kattlesnake bristle up an' .squirm roun' ; he say, 
* Don't you walk on me. Bet'ner walk on me ; I tell you 
in time — z-z-z-z-z-z-z ! ' 

"Tuckey-gobbler say, 'Humph! ef sich a triflin' lil 
wurrum like you so partic'lar, I tink you better git out de 

" Eattlesnake shake he tail wuss. He say, 'You mus' 
be crazy, enty ? I '11 have you to understan' I don't git 
out de road fer nobody, let 'lone fer sich a stuck-up fool ez 
you is ! ' 

" Ole tuckey-gobbler rear back an' say, ' Who is you, I 
like to know, to be talkin' yuh so bigity ? You little 'sig- 
nificant bug ! Is you got de enshoance to stan' dere an' 
sass me ? You don't know me, does you ? You dunner no 
better 'n to lay under dat bush an' shake yo' tail at me ? — 
when — vnj — gran'daddy — svxdloiccd — a allergatek ! * 

" De ole tuckey stretch hisself up powerful big an' look 


like he believe he could mose swallow a elephant. An' de 
rattlesnake bust out in a big laugh, an' he up 'n say, — 

" ' Dass you, is it ? I said to merself you was a fool 
when I fust seen you comin'.' An' den he laugh fitten to 

" Ole tuckey-gobbler git fightin' mad, you see him so, an' 
he say, ' Shut up dat ! I '11 make you laugh on t' other 
side yo' mouf turreckly. I aim to make you eat dem words 
'fo' I quit,' an' den he wheeled in an' everlas'nly oust de 
rattlesnake out. 

" Eattlesuake slmke he tail fast ez lightnin' — z-z-z-z- 
z-z-z ! He say ; ' I dare you to walk on me ! I des dare 
yer — double dog dare yer — to walk on me ! * 

" An', would you b'lieve it, de ole tuckey so mad he des 
up 'n pounced right on de rattlesnake an' tried to pop he 
spurs in him ; but de rattlesnake done bit him — dat 
quick ! [Asa snapped his fingers loudly.] An' little more, 
an' dat bigity tuckey-gobbler done drap down dead." 

" Now you see that, Billy," exclaimed Charley, and Asa 
shook his head in solemn warning. 

But Billy did not apj)ear to ■ be in the least disturbed, 
responding with his usual giggle. 

" Oh, but you see, that was n't son," he said argumenta- 
tively ; " that was son's cousin, I reckon. Son won't bite 
me. No-sir-ree ! " 



AFTER supper that evening, as the men told yarns and 
joked about the camp-fire, Billy seemed unusually 
wide awake, and repeated nursery rhymes and rigmaroles 
by the dozen. 

Taking Charley's hand in his, he touched the fingers one 
after another, repeating, " Little man — ring man — long 
man — lick pot — thumpkin." 

Then, tweaking the toes of his own bare feet, he merrily 
recited, — 

" This little pig wants some corn ; 
This one says, ' Where yoii goin' to git it ? ' 
This one says, ' In master's barn ; ' 
This one says he 's goin' to tell ; ^ , 

This one says, ' Queak ! — queak ! — 
Can't git over the door-sill ! ' " 

Touching first Charley's index finger and then his own 
as each word was uttered, he said, " William Ma-trimble- 
toe ; he 's a good fisherman ; catches hens, puts 'em in 
pens ; some lays eggs, some lays none ; wire, brier, limber 
lock ; sets and sits till twelve o'clock ; 0-U-T spells ' out ' 
— go!" 

This suggested a game of hide-and-seek, and Charley 
was coaxed into playing. Before long Asa joined, and 


tlieu Joe was drawn iuto the game. It was a bright moon- 
lit night, and no one seemed sleepy. The deserters stopped 
telling their yarns, and watched tlie game. The laughter 
of the boys and the negro aflected them pleasantly. 

The fun was contagious. Five minutes later every oc- 
cupant of the island was engaged in the sport. One by 
one the deserters yielded to the fascination of it, and joined 
in the game, surprised at themselves and at each other, 
but excusing such levity with the laughing remark, 
" Anythiug for a little fun ! " 

"Ten — ten — double ten — forty-five — fifteen hun- 
dred — are you all hid ? Are all my sheep hid ? " shouted 
Billy ; and such whoo})iug and running and hiding in far 
dark recesses as followed ! 

" Now 's de time ! " whispered Asa, when the fun was 
at its height, and he and Joe and Charley had run off and 
squatted together behind the same clump of bushes. 
" Now 's de time for us to give 'em de slip an' git away." 

Tlie boys listened eagerly as he explained the plan 
which he had formed during the past few minutes. He 
proposed that as soon as the players scattered to hide the 
next time, he should run off to the boat-landing, step into 
the water, and drag each of the three boats about a hun- 
dred yards off into the submerged forest, where they could 
not be found readily. The deserters would thus be led to 
believe that the boys and the negro had escaped to the 
prairie, taking all the boats with them. 

While he was hiding the boats, the boys should continue 
the game, showing themselves conspicuously, in order that 
the absence of Asa, if observed, might not excite suspicion. 


The negro had outlined his plan thus far, when the 
course of the game compelled the conspirators to separate 
and return to headquarters. When the rush for cover was 
again made, the boys saw Asa dart away in the direction 
of the boats, and were well pleased to observe that his 
absence attracted no attention. They were then careful 
to keep suspicion lulled by playing with all their might. 
The cunning negro succeeded in secreting the boats as 
proposed, and in a very short time turned up again, none 
but the boys observing that his ragged trousers were wet 
to the knees. 

Joe and Charley understood that the first rush for cover 
after Asa's return was the time to escape. When they 
saw him again dart away along the path into the swamp- 
cane, they followed fast with throbbing hearts, arriving at 
the boat-landing by the time the last one of the scattering 
men was safely hidden. 

There Charley was given his hatchet, and Joe his gun. 
Asa put a rifle over his own shoulder and snatched up a 
bucket of eatables, — all of which he had cleverly con- 
veyed tliither since the commencement of the game. Asa 
stepped into the water, and bade the boys follow. 

" We got to go in dis water to fool dem dogs," he 

He led the boys about fifty feet from the shore along 
the open boat-road, then turned to the right into the thick 
growth, and skirted the island for several hundred yards 
before landing again. It was no trifling undertaking. The 
water was in many places over their knees, and was thick 
with drift and moss ; the bottom was often muddy, and a. 


dense swamp undergrowth forced them to a tortuous route. 
Besides, little light descended from the moon among those 
crowding trees. Poor Charley found it difficult to keep 

" Ten — ten — double ten ! " they heard Billy shouting 
faintly as they lauded, and knew that as yet no one ob- 
served their absence. 

Asa had not dared to risk flight across the prairie with- 
out Billy to carry the third and last boat. Even two boats 
would have been more tlian they could move in rapidly 
enough to escape pursuit and capture. 

He had, therefore, decided to secrete the boats, putting 
the deserters on the wrong scent and causing delay. After 
covering their trail in tlie water, Asa meant to strike across 
the island and enter the swamp at the opposite end. He 
knew there was a way out of the Okefenokee through a 
jungle in that direction, which could be followed on foot, 
though he had never been over it. 

" Whose rifle is that, Asa ? " asked Joe, as they started 
forward in single file. 

" Bubber's," was the answer, with a low laugh ; " I aim 
to take dis rifle to yo' pa ter pay 'im fer my rent, — fer de 
five months I been workin' fer Bubber." 

" He won't have it," replied Joe, " and you ought not to 
have taken it." 

" Ef he don' want it, den hit 's mine." 

Joe laughed in spite of himself, and they all halted to 
listen as a shout reached them from the camp. Distinctly 
they heard the names of Joe and Asa called, and knew 
that they were missed. They now went forward faster 


than before. Five minutes later another shout reached 
them ; and after a brief silence several sharp short yelps 
from the dogs were heard. 

" They have found that the boats are gone, and have 
called out the dogs," said Joe. 

Asa leaped forward at the sound, and poor Charley was 
hard pressed to keep up after that. The darkness was 
bewildering until they emerged from the " hammock " and 
started along the open pine ridge which was the backbone 
of the island. Here, however, the moonlight filtered 
through the scattering tops of the pines, and they could 
distinguish prominent objects fifty feet away. 

Nevertheless, it was very difficult to make rapid headway, 
owing to the frequent blackjack thickets, the tall huckle- 
berry and gallberry bushes and the crowding clumps of 
fan-palmetto which barred the way. There was a slight 
trail leading down the ridge, as they knew ; but no time 
could be lost in searching for it now, and they were obliged 
to pick their way as best they could. 

The island was about four miles long, and fully an hour 
and a half was consumed in covering the distance. De- 
scending into the dense growth of the "hammock" which 
joined it with the swamp at the farther end, they halted 
to listen. All was deathly still, at least in the direction 
of the deserters' camp ; but the stillness of the dark, 
slumbering swamp in their front was suddenly broken by 
the dismal and unearthly hoot of an owl. 

Joe thought they ought to push forward and make good 
their escape into the swamp before daybreak; but Asa's 
courage now failed him, and he objected. He said it was 



dangerous to go on, as indeed it was ; they might sink into 
the bog over their heads, or they might be set upon by a 
panther. Besides, there was no telling what sort of reptile 
they might stumble upon in the darkness. Joe was by 
no means free from fear himself; but he thought it tlie 
part of prudence as well as of manliness to advise going 

" Dem men won't start to hunt us 'fo' daylight," said 
Asa, confidently. " It 's midnight now. Dey t'ink we 
gone on de prairie wid all de boats, an' I know mighty well 
dey ain't gwine start wadin' atter us till mawnin'." 

They stood a moment in silence. Suddenly from the 
dark depths of the swamp on their front a strange cry was 
borne to them, — a cry or bark or croak, they could not tell 

" That sounds like a bear," whispered Joe. 

" Must be a jmnt'er," whispered Asa. 

The cry was lieard again, more mysterious, weird, and 
startling than before. Facing about, they retreated hur- 
riedly up tlie slope and into the open pine woods, where 
the moonlight outlined neighboring objects. 

Asa, Ijadly frightened, wanted to build a fire, but Joe 
would not consent to such an imprudence, and finally it 
was agreed that they sit down with their backs to a large 
pine and watch until daylight. 

Joe and Asa sat thus, upright and alert, their guns in 
readiness, for a long while. Charley lay down between 
them, and fell asleep. All was now quiet, and gradually 
they recovered from their fright. 

Gradually also a drowsiness seized them. Asa rested 


his gun across his lap, dropped his head on his breast, and 
soon began to snore. Joe roused him several times, only 
to see him lapse into insensibility a few moments later. 
The boy watched more than an hour longer, and then he 
also succumbed. Later, as lie roused up to a state of semi- 
consciousness and opened his eyes, he saw that the moon 
was low, and that apparently all was welh However, as 
he drifted back toward dreamland he thought he heard a 
short, sharp yelp or two from dogs in the distance, but was 
too much enchained by drowsiness to heed. 

The dogs liad started some trail, no doubt, — that of a 
rabbit, perhaps ; but what could it matter to the three 
sleepers under the pine ? 

When Joe again awoke it was daylight, and the dogs 
were leaping about him and barking. Several men were 
at hand, too ; and the one nearest, who looked down at 
the sleepers with an ugly grin, was Sweet Jackson. The 
sound of blows then drew his attention to the fact that 
Bubber Hardy, close by, was kicking Asa in order to awake 

They were caught ! What else could they have ex- 
pected ? The events of the night leaped into view in the 
boy's memory, and he was overcome with sorrow and 
shame. " If we had not been such cowards ! " he thought. 

Joe rose to his feet. Charley was crying, and Asa was 
looking around stuj)idly. Sweet laughed in derision as he 
looked at them, and poor Joe thought that even this was 
deserved. After some severe kicking and cuffing, from 
which Joe and Charley turned away their indignant eyes, 
Asa was allowed to rise. 


" You thought you 'd run off with them boys, aud steal 
my gun in the bargain, did you ? " shouted Bubber, angrily. 
"1 11 make you sick of it 'fore I quit." 

The boys themselves were seized roughly, and all were 
marched back to camp. Asa was ordered to cook breakfast, 
and the men immediately set about building a prison, — a 
sort of pen of heavy saplings, with slanting poles and a pal- 
metto thatch for the roof. It was given no window and 
only a small aperture for a door. At night Asa was shut 
up in this pen, but Joe and Charley slept in the loft with 
Bubber as formerly. 

The boys found themselves under constant watch after 
that, and their freedom of coming and going in the neigh- 
borhood of the camp was curtailed. Still it was not im- 
possible for them to get a private word with Asa while he 
was doing his work ; and one day some three weeks later 
Joe said to him, — 

" If we could catch a live duck, maybe we could send a 
note to father." 

" Dat duck would n't go to yo' pa," replied Asa, stolidl}'-. 

"Well, I heard Sister Marian and Captain Marshall 
talking about a book they had read," continued Joe, " and 
they said a lady and a man she did n't like were cast 
away on an uninhabited island in the Pacific Ocean, and 
after a while the lady began to love the man because he 
was so kind, and did so many things for her. And one of 
the things he did was to go out before daylight and wade 
into a pond where ducks came very early in the morning ; 
and he would squat down in the grass and water up to his 
neck (the grass hid his head), and when the ducks swam 


close up, he would reach under and grab them by the foot. 
And he would write letters, telling how the lady was ship- 
wrecked on that island, and tie them to the ducks and turn 
them loose." 

" An' did dera ducks carry de letters to the right place ? " 
asked Asa. 

" I don't know. But after a while a ship came. I 'd 
like to try it, anyhow." 

" We can't git no ducks," said Asa ; " but if you write 
de letter, I '11 git you a live pa'tridge." 

The deserters had set traps for partridges at several 
different points on the island, and had usually a supply of 
birds alive in a pen near the camp, with which to vary 
their diet. The flight of a partridge seemed to promise 
less than that of almost any bird they could think of ; but 
it was the only chance, and Joe accepted the suggestion. 

So when Asa went to the bird-pen the same day and 
wrung the necks of a dozen partridges, he brought back 
with him a live one also, and turned it over to Joe with- 
out attracting attention. 

Joe, having written the letter, tied it securely beneath 
the bird's wing. It ran : — 

Dear Father, — Charley and I got lost in the Okefenokee, 
and we carae to this island where the deserters stay. They 
keep us prisoners, for they are afraid we will tell the soldiers 
where they are, 

Asa is here too. They stole him. "We tried to escape two 
or three times, but it 's no use. 

"When you come after us don't forget this, — that to the north 
of this island there is a great wide marsh, I don't know how 


many miles across, and beyond it, they say, is a trail that goes to 
Trader's Hill. Come quick. 

Your affectionate son, 

Joseph Merim^e. 

P. S. — Whoever finds this, please take it or send it riglit 
away to Mr. Roger Merimee, Trader's Hill, Charlton County, 

The letter was written on a page torn from the boy's 
notebook. Fastening it beneath the bird's wing, and tying 
about its neck a strip from his handkerchief to attract 
attention, Joe pitclied the partridge upward with all his 
might, hoping thus to frighten it into a long flight across 
tlie prairie. He knew that if it alighted on the island the 
chances of its being shot or caught by a friend would be 
altogether lost. 

The bird soared high, plunged, wheeled at two hundred 
yards' distance, rose again as if newly alarmed, then quickly 
dropped into the island jungle. Joe sat down and buried 
his head in his hands. For the moment all his hopes 
were over. 

" "VVliat you let that bird go for, you triflin' nigger ? " 
cried one of the deserters on watch. 

" Dass a mighty smart bird. He ain't want to lose his 
fedders," said Asa, grinning ; for he knew the loss of one 
partridge was nothing to the deserters. 

" Don't you cry, Mas' Joe," he whispered, bending over 
the boy; "you done yer bes'. Mebby we find some other 

But Joe's hopes had been so high that he could not soon 
control his silent tears. 



BY this time the deserters had begun to relax their vigi- 
hiuce ; and the two boys were allowed to walk about 
tlie neighborhood of the camp with almost their former 

" They can't git away without Asa's help nohow," Bub- 
ber Hardy more than once remarked to his associates ; 
" and as long as we keep our eye on the nigger we 're all 
right. No use hemmin' the boys in too close. It 's hard 
on them, powerful hard ; and I, for one, don't like to see 
'em suffer. You kin see all the time they 're bad off with 
homesickness ; and they air two as smart and honor'ble 
and well-behaved boys as I ever laid eyes on." 

Such remarks, delivered now and then by the " cock of 
the walk," produced a perceptible effect on every member 
of the camp, except perhaps Sweet Jackson ; and the boys 
soon discovered that they could go about as they pleased 
withont molestation. 

" Can't you think of some other plan for us to get away, 
Asa ? " asked Joe, a day or two after they had let fly the 

The two bovs stood looking on while the negro cooked 
dinner. The deserters were all out of earshot. 


" I reckon der ain't but one way," replied Asa, punching 
the fire slowly and meditatively, " an' dat 's fer you boys 
to keep 'wake tell late some night, den slip down out de 
loft widout wakin' up any dem mens an' let me out dat 
pen. Den we kin git in one dem boats, atter we done sot 
fire to de yuther two, an' — " 

" Set fire to the other two ? " exclaimed Joe. 

" Pass hit ; dass de ve'y thing to do. Den dem mens '11 
sho' sweat 'fo' dey cotch us agin." 

" But that would leave them prisoners on the island," 
objected Joe. 

" And they might starve," said Charley. 

" Shoo ! " cried Asa, with a laugh of absolute indifference. 
" Dey mout ez well be prisoners ez for us to be prison- 
ers. Des be turn an' turn about. You said yo'self dey 
'zerve to be shot fer desertin' fum de army, — why can't 
dey starve, den, ef dey ain't got sense enough to git away 
from yuh widout de boats. Let 'em root-hog-or-die, I 

" Oh, but that would be mean," said Joe, shaking his 
head. " I would n't be willing to do that." 

" Wait tell dey kick you an' cuff you roun' lak dey done 
me, an' you 'd be willin' to burn dey house down, let 'lone 
dey boats." 

" No, I would n't." 

" Well, den, we kin leave de boats, — des hide 'em lak 
we done t'other time." 

*' Oh, yes, that 's what we can do," agreed Joe. 

" An' ef we git started by midnight we be out dey reach 
'fu' mornin'. Dey never kin ketch us." 


It was suggested and agreed ou that the attempt be 
made that uight. The boys were warned by the negro to 
remain awake, and not stir from their places until they 
had listened for a long while to the snoring of the desert- 
ers, and were absolutely sure that they were all sound 
asleep. Then they should steal guardedly along the wall 
until opposite the door in the floor. 

" Of all you boys do, don't you step on none dem mens 
foots dere in de dark," warned Asa, " fer ef you do de 
cake's all dough." 

He added that it would be unwise to attempt to let the 
ladder down ; they had better jump lightly to the ground 

" Oh, we '11 just swing down by our hands and drop on 
our feet," said Joe. " It's not high." 

Asa said that if for any reason they failed to get off in 
the boats, they could run down to the other end of the 
island as before, and start off afoot on the jungle trail of 
which he had heard the deserters speak. The trouble was 
that he was not sure just where to find it. 

Joe proposed that he and Charley spend the afternoon 
looking for it ; and as soon as they had eaten their dinner, 
and the deserters had scattered, he sauntered away, gun 
in hand, followed after a few minutes by Charley. If this 
move was ol)served, it excited no apprehension, and the 
boys got off uuchalleuged. 

After walking about two miles down the backbone of 
the island, the boys concluded to cut across to the swamp 
on the right, and begin looking for the jungle trail. Their 
plan was to follow as nearly as possible the line of demarc- 


ation between the swamp and the high ground, thus encir- 
cling the island in the course of time, and necessarily 
crossing the trail. The slight trail which led from the 
camp down to the opposite end of the island was there 
lost, before it entered the swamp, as they liad ascertained 
on a previous excursion, and it was useless to follow it a 
second time. Their present plan, of following the rim of 
the island, seemed the only one involving the thorough 
search which they wished to make. 

The path chosen was difficult to follow. Often a detour 
higher up on the island, or deeper into the swamp, was 
necessary to avoid bogs, marshes, impregnable clumps of 
fan-palmettos, and tangled masses of brambles. And often 
the way was difficult enough by reason of the aged fallen 
logs thrown criss-cross, and piled high by wind storms, and 
by the crowding swamp undergrowth, and the thickly 
standing trees themselves. Once they penetrated a cane- 
brake through which it would have been impossible to go 
but for passages evidently made by wild animals ; for the 
tall strong reeds, which stood as straight as arrows, were 
for the most part hardly three inches apart. 

Even along the borders of the comparatively open pine 
land which formed the island, they were most forcibly 
reminded of what a wild, pathless wilderness the great 
Okefenokee really was. 

Two or three times they halted and carefully examined 
faint suggestions of a trail, soon pushing forward again 
unsatisfied. They had passed the extremity of the island, 
and were returning up the left-hand side, in great fear lest 
their efforts should be altogether fruitless, when they at 


last came upon what Joe felt conviuced was the object of 
their search. 

Having followed the trail two or three hundred yards 
into the jungle, they retraced their steps to higher ground. 
It was now late in the afternoon and time they were turn- 
ing their faces toward camp ; but they had begun to feel 
weary after tlie long and rough tramp, and Charley begged 
that they might stop and rest. So they lay down on the 
soft billowy wire-grass in a high and dry spot, hemmed in 
by tall clumps of palmettos. 

" Oh, is n't this nice ! " exclaimed Charley, after a sigh 
of great satisfaction. 

Joe was about to utter a response, when all at once they 
heard a rustle in tlie grass to the left, and the next 
moment the hearts of both boys began to beat with strong 
excitement, as tlieir eyes fell upon a large wild-cat crouched 
within a short distance of them. 

Involuntarily they sprang to their feet, whereupon the 
cat's hair stood on end, its eyes flashed with rage, and it 
displayed its glistening teeth, uttering a low guttural 
growl. The animal, which they must have surprised close 
to its lair, as otherwise it would likely have made off with- 
out show of fight unless attacked first, was a powerful one, 
some three feet in length, its hair being of a dark brown- 
ish gray, mottled with black. 

Joe snatched up his gun, took hurried aim, and fired. 
But he was trembling with excitement ; and it was no 
wonder that the load of buck-sliot buried itself in tlie grass 
a foot or more wide of its mark. 

There was no time to reload, for a moment later the 


enraged wild-cat leaped througli the air, lauding full upon 
the boy ere he could spring aside. The shock carried 
him to his knees, the now useless gun slipping from his 
grasp. As the cat came down, it cruelly clawed the boy's 
left shoulder and the left side of his head, snarling furiously 
and blowing its hot breath into his face. Joe beheld its 
fiery eyes only a few inches from liis own, and his hands 
flew to its throat. 

Exerting all his strength, he lield the cat off, but could 
not prevent his clothes from being torn to shreds by its 
strong white claws, and painful wounds being inflicted 
upon his arms and body. 

For a few moments Charley stood paralyzed with fright, 
then he caught the cat by the tail and strove frantically 
to pull it off his brother. Failing utterly in the attempt, 
he thought of his pocket-knife, and getting it out as 
quickly as possible, stabbed the creature twice in the 
back. Then, with a maddened snarl, the cat let go its 
hold on Joe, and turned upon Joe's rescuer. 

" Help ! help me, Joe ! " cried Charley, terrified. 

" Grab him by the throat I " shouted the elder boy, stag- 
gering to his feet, half blinded by the blood which covered 
his face. 

Joe's first thought was to seize his gun ; but he saw at 
once that he could not shoot without killing his brother, 
and he leaped forward empty-handed. Stumbling over an 
impediment and falling to his hands and knees, he espied 
the bloody pocket-knife just dropped by Charley. A 
moment later the wild-cat was stabbed in the side ; then 
again and yet again. 


But poor Charley was still exposed to the wounded ani- 
mal's cruel claws, and, realizing that he must at once be 
freed, Joe seized the cat's left fore-leg and pulled with all 
his might. 

The snarling beast was thus partly drawn away from 
its victim ; and Charley's hands, which had gripped its 
throat, now fell to struggling with its right fore-leg, the 
claws of which were sunk through his clothing and tearing 

o o o 

the flesh of his shoulder. 

Then it was that Joe plunged the knife to the hilt in the 
animal's throat. It was all over after tliat. Both the 
windpipe and the jugular vein were probably cut, for in 
a few moments the cat ceased to struggle. 

The battle had been won, but not without its cost. Both 
boys were bleeding from a number of painful, though not 
serious, wounds, and their clothing, in places, was literally 
torn to shreds. As soon as it was all over, Charley sat 
down in the grass and burst out crying. 

" I d-don't w-want to cry, Joe, ' he apologized between 
sobs, " but I c-can't help it." 

" Never mind. You jus' cry as much as you want to ; 
don't be ashamed," said Joe, rather unsteadily, and looking 
as if — but for his weight of years — he might condescend 
to cry a little himself. 

Having wiped the blood from his face, Joe now proceeded 
to cut a long green stick. He then fished some twine out 
of his pocket and tied the wild-cat's feet together. Thrust- 
ing the stick between its legs, he took one end of it and 
Charley the other, and thus they returned in triumph, 
bearing their dearly bought prize between them. 


Whenever anything very unusual or extraordinary oc- 
curred, Asa was in the habit of remarking, " Der mus' be a 
deviation somewhere;" and when, at sunset that afternoon, 
he saw the two boys approaching the camp-fire, all covered 
with blood, and carrying a dead wild-cat suspended from a 
stick between them, his favorite expression occurred to him 
as most applicable. The black man's jaw dropped with as- 
tonishment ; clearly there was an extraordinary " devia- 
tion" somewhere. 

A few leaps, and he was beside them ; a few words, and 
he knew the outline of their story. 

" Look yuh, Joe ! " he cried, laughing and gesticulating 
in an ecstasy, " you don' mean to say you an' Charley kill 
dat wile-cat wid des yo' pocket-hnife ! " 

" Yes, we did," declared Charley, proudly. 

" Oh, go 'way ! Well, well, well, ef dat don't beat all ! 
W'y, you boys — you two boys," the negro cried gleefully, 
patting them on the back, " I could turn in an' des hug you 
two boys ! " 

Hardly less enthusiastic were the deserters, most of 
whom had now gathered to the €amp. Some of them ex- 
pressed their admiration for the youngsters' pluck in no 
mild terms. 

" That 's the sort o' grit I like to see, boys," said Bubber 
Hardy, showing great pleasure. " Never mind, son. I 'II 
fix it," he said kindly to Charley, who winced on being 
patted on one of his wounds. 

Bubber then carefully washed and dressed the wounds of 
both boys, binding some up with strips of cloth and salving 
others, the rest of the men standing and looking on. Even 


Sweet Jackson spoke a kind word to them, offering for their 
use a box of salve which he had made from bears' marrow, 
and the stingy Lofton produced a flask of whiskey and made 
both boys swallow a little of it, assuring them that it would 
lessen the pain. 

Everybody seemed determined to make heroes of them, 
and Joe was so much elated that he forgot the pain. If it 
was worth so much praise to fight and conquer a wild 
animal, thought he, how truly glorious it must be to shed 
one's blood for one's country ! 



AFTEE supper the men cougregated as usual round a 
fire a few paces from the one over which Asa did the 
cooking, and, lounging about on the grass and smoking, 
they began their nightly pastime of yarn-spinning and 
jesting. The two boys, the heroes of the hour, were asked 
to re-tell in detail the story of their encounter with the 
wild-cat, and were honored, not only with many words of 
praise, but by an invitation to drink freely of the corn- 
beer, a fermented liquor of the deserters' own brewing, 
which heretofore had never been offered them. 

Charley soon discovered greater attraction in the com- 
pany of Asa and Billy at the other fire ; but Joe lingered 
among the men, laughing and talking with almost the 
freedom of one of tliem, though drinking only in modera- 
tion. So elated was he that he not only became ob- 
livious of the pain of his wounds, but forgot for the 
time that he was a prisoner and tliat his companions 
were deserters. 

But the situation assumed its normal proportions before 
his mind as soon as one "Mitch" Jenkins, who had first 
appeared in the camp late that afternoon, began to speak 


of the great difficulty he had had in finding the island 
and of the recent events of his life before entering the 

" I depend ef this Oke-fe-noke ain't a sight," Jenkins 
was saying when Joe's attention was drawn to him. 
" Mis' Jackson " — glancing at Sweet — " put me on the 
trail and told me 'bout how fur it was, but I thought shore 
I was lost many a time, and calkilated never to git h-yer. 
I spent one night in this swamp by my lone self, and I 
don't want to spend nair 'nother. I dunner what 1 did 71 1 
hear nosin' an' trampin' round in them woods ! I thought 
to myself, I 'd a'most as soon be under fire in battle ; 
though I kin jes' tell you it ain't no fun to hear the cannons 
a-roarin' right at you, and feel the bullets a-whistlin' round 
yer years, and see men a-fallin' an' dyin' all round you, and 
the blood a-runnin' like water." 

" No, it ain't," assented Bubber Hardy ; " but you git sort 
0' used to it after a while." 

" Them edicated fellers out o' the towns and off the l)ig 
plantations seem able to stand it better 'n we piny-woods 
fellers, — we ' Crackers,' as they call us," continued Jen- 
kins, with the air of one stating a curious and unaccount- 
able fact. "They'll stand up there and be shot down like 
I dunner what 'fore they '11 run." 

" They 've got more intrust in the fight than we-all have, 
— that's the reason," asserted Jackson. 

" That ain't all. It 's becaze they 're fightin' mad all the 
time, and ready to swear they '11 conquer or die. Tliat 's 
what they say we must do. They think if we don't whip 
the Yankees, the end 0' the world is a-comin'. I 'm willin' 



enough to conquer if hit can be done easy, but I ai)it 
willin' to die. 

" I waited a mighty long time 'fore / deserted, though," 
continued Jenkins, looking around him with an air of 
conscious superiority ; " and I reckon I would n't 'a' been 
li-yer now if they could 'a' fed me. Them soldiers thar in 
Verginy is putty nigh starvin,' you hear me ; and what 's 
a man to do ? If a man 's goin' to light, he 's got to eat, — 
that 's what / say. Ain't it so, men ? " 

As no one seemed disposed to gainsay this point, the 
new-comer proceeded to describe in detail the increasing 
sufferings of himself and his fellow-soldiers of the totter- 
ing Confederacy. He also told how he had run the gaunt- 
let, — a feat more easily accomplished in these days of 
wide-spread disaster than formerly, — and travelled home- 
ward over hundreds of miles of war-scarred country, every- 
where now the scene of great privation and trying strait, 
filled with a people aghast at their crowding misfortunes, 
but unbroken in spirit, and for the most part as loyal as 
ever they were in happier times to the cause which they 
had chosen to love and uphold, and which represented 
their most solemn convictions. 

" Oh, I tell you, people is seein' sights these days," 
declared Jenkins. " The Yankees have got Savannah 
and Brunswick and 'most everything else, and the piny 
woods round the Oke-fe-noke is plum' full o' refugees, — 
old men, fine ladies, and little children, — and some of 'em 
ain't hardly got a roof to shelter 'em. Hit's turrible, — 
hit's plum' turrible." 

Unable longer to listen quietly to the account of the 


accumulating disasters of the Confederacy, Joe had all at 
once started up and begun to speak. The fermented 
beverage that he had imbibed added to his excitement, 
and perhaps entered as a factor into his carelessness of 
consequences, although he was by nature of a markedly 
brave and determined spirit. Starting up in the first 
place in the energy of an excited attempt to controvert a 
statement made by one of the men, before either he or 
his companions quite realized what had taken place, he 
was standing forth and boldly addressing them. 

In school he had been noted for his unusual eloquence, 
and fondness for declaiming martial and patriotic poems ; 
and although he now often hesitated, repeated himself, and 
mingled his haphazard quotations from these poems with 
the commonplaces of boyish phraseology, he spoke with 
real eloquence, and the deserters listened to him in as- 
tonishment and admiration. The boy seemed to forget 
everything but his intense desire to awaken patriotic 
enthusiasm in the men around him. 

Joe asked — in substance — how his hearers could sit 
supinely and selfishly in the Okefenokee when every 
man was needed at the front ; when one disaster was fol- 
lowing fast upon another ; when there was a chance that 
the lost ground might yet be regained if the faint-hearted 
and faithless would but repent of their evil way and join 
forces with the brave ! It was true that the struo-o-le was 
more and more one against fearful odds, but many a bat- 
tle had been won against fearful odds. " ' Courage,' " cried 
the boy, with enthusiasm and in stirring tones, quoting 
from one of his familiar speeches — 


" ' Courage, therefore, brother men ; 
Courage, — to the fight again ! ' " 

And even should they fall in battle, was it not a 
thousand times better to die gloriously than to live in dis- 
honor worse than death ? They talked of suffering and 
privation — as if it were not gloiy itself to endure all this 
for a noble cause ! Would they sell tlieir birthright for a 
mess of pottage ? Would they barter the beloved Con- 
federacy for a dinner ? What infamy ! The boy declared 
he would rather starve a thousand times than desert in 
the hour of greatest need. 

After referring with telling effect to several traitors and 
renegades of history, and the imperishable dishonor 
attached to their names, the excited young orator assured 
the deserters — all in his own boyish way — that their 
disgraceful and selfish flight to the swamp reminded him of 
the infamous, perjured Scots, who sold their trusting king 
to Cromwell for a song. He also compared them to the 
revengeful Coriolanus, who led the victorious Volscians to 
the gates of his native city, relenting only at sight of his 
wife, his old mother, and a train of Eoman matrons on 
their knees and in tears at his feet. Did the selfish and 
cruel men of the present instance, whose desertion had 
lielped to sap the strength of the armies of the Confed- 
eracy, wish to see tliose refugeeing women and children 
kneeling and in tears at tlicir feet ? 

Finally he eloquently recited a portion of the " Lay of 
the Last Minstrel, " on the subject of the love of country, 
which he knew by heart, beginning — 

" Breathes there the man, with soul so dead," 

Finally he eloquently recited a portion of the " Lay of the Last Minstrel 

Page 84. 


delivering with especial emphasis and fire the concluding 

lines : — 

" Despite those titles, power, and pelf, 
The wretch, concentred all in self, 
Living, shall forfeit fair renown, 
And, doubly dying, shall go down 
To the vile dust, from whence lie sprung. 
Unwept, unhouored, and unsung." 

Then, quite overcome by the violence of his emotions, 
the boy turned and rushed away, exclaiming, " God, 
I wish I were a man ! " Throwing himself down on the 
grass near the fire where Asa, Billy, and Charley stood 
listening, he burst into sobs. 

" That boy '11 run me crazy," muttered Bubber Hardy, 
starting to his feet with a snort and striding away into 
the darkness. 

" Did you ever hear the like ? " asked Lofton, breaking 
a dead silence. " It everlas'nly made the cold chills run 
up and down my back." 

" I depend he 'd make a powerful exorter," remarked 
the man Thatcher, who had been a lay preacher. 

" He '11 make a brave cap 'n in the army one these 
days — if the war holds out long enough ; that 's what he '11 
'make," declared the new-comer Jenkins. 

" That beer must 'a' made him half tight, or he would n't 
'a' dared," growled Sweet Jackson. "He's gittin' a little 
too big for his breeches, and he 'd jes' better look out. I 
don't aim to stand no sich." 

As if in answer to this threat, Bubber Hardy now 
appeared on the outskirts of the circle of firelight. 


" I jes' want to put you all on notice," he said, iu a 
shaken voice, before receding into the darkness : " if any- 
body lays his finger on that boy, he 's got me to whip." 

Meanwhile Asa and Charley had drawn near the sob- 
bing boy, wondering at what they saw ; and even Billy 
seemed sobered for the moment. 

"Xem-mind, Mas' Joe, honey," said the negro, sooth- 
ingly. "Don' cry. It'll all come out right. Sho' got 
to be a deviation some o' dese days. I wish yo' pa an' 
ma could 'a' heard you givin' it to dem mens dat-a way." 
The negro added, " I know dey 'd 'a' been proud. An' I 
gwine tell 'em, too, soon 's ever I git de chance, — I gwine 
tell 'em eve 'y word ! " 



I DON' reckon we better try it to-night," whispered 
Asa, half an hour later. 

Joe now sat up, looking dreamingly into the fire, and 
several of the deserters were climbing up into the loft 
to bed. 

" Try what ? " asked the boy, absently. 

" Try to run off like we made out to do dis morniu'. 
You boys '11 feel too stiff an' bad, won't you, wid all dem 
scratches fum dat vigeous wile-cat ? " 

" No ; we 'd better not try it to-night," was the answer, 
and Joe relapsed into his revery. 

During the next day, both boys suffered a good deal 
from their scratches, as Asa had foreseen. Charley al- 
lowed Billy to draw him into frolicsome play now aud 
then ; but Joe lay quietly on the grass with closed eyes, or 
watching Asa. 

" Mr. Hardy is hurted in he mind, you see him so," the 
negro said to the boy, late in tlie afternoon. " Dis morniu' 
he went off in one de boats all by hisself, an' dis evenin' 
he ain't done nothin' but walk aroun' all to hissef lookin' 
powerful serious." 

" What 's the matter with him ? " 


" I reckon you gie him too big a dose las' night, — 
putty nigh mo 'n he could swallow. Dat man hurted in 
he mind, / tell you ! " 

" He 's more of a man than any of the others," com- 
mented Joe. " It 's strange he ever deserted. I know 
he 's not a coward." 

The boys felt better next morning, and gladly accepted 
the invitation given them by Hardy to take a trip with 
him in his boat. Any sort of change was welcome, espe- 
cially to Joe, who chafed constantly. Hardy announced to 
the men at breakfast that he was going to Honey Island, 
and expected to keep an eye open for a bee-tree. Honey 
had been found on this island more than once before, it 
appeared ; hence its name. 

Asa was ordered to prepare a lunch, and the three were 
soon ready to start. Sweet Jackson observed their prepa- 
rations narrowly, and before they got off he called " Bud " 
Jones, and " Zack " Lofton aside, and urged them to take a 
second boat and accompany the party. 

" I jes' bet Bubber aims to turn them boys loose," he 
said uneasily. " Hit 's more 'n he can stand to have that 
boy Joe around, a-carryin' on and a-exhortin' that-a way, 
and he wants to git shed o' him." 

" I '11 bet five dollars that 's jes' what he 's up to," ex- 
claimed Jones ; and Lofton gave expression to the same 

" I 'd like well enough to git slied o' that bigity little 
chap myself," Sweet continued, " but hit won't begin to 
do ; hit ain't safe. I tell you what you two fellows better 
do, — you go 'long with Bubber to Honey Island, and keep 
your eye on them boys." 


The precaution was one in which all were equally inter- 
ested, and the two men readily agreed to go. As he was 
poling his bateau off from the shore, Hardy was surprised 
to see them coming down the slope, each with a musket in 
one hand and a bucket in the other, 

" Don't you reckon we better go 'long, Bubber ? " asked 
Jones, persuasively. " Mebby you '11 find a bee-tree, and 
we kin holp you cut it and git the honey. We was goiu' 
over that-a way, anyhow." 

" All right," was the brief answer ; and the two men 
sprang promptly into a second boat. 

It was soon quite evident to all, however, that the 
" cock of the walk " was displeased. During the long hard 
pull of three hours over the boat-road, winding through the 
flooded swamp and forest, he did not once speak to the 
two men, although the distance between the boats was 
never greater than a hundred yards, and often not more 
than a few feet. But he spoke now and then to the boys, 
pointing out objects likely to interest them. 

"Honey Islant ain't as big as our'n," he told them 
once, " but the bresh is thicker." He then added with 
particular emphasis : " On t'other side from where we '11 
land, there 's a good trail that leads out o' the swamp, — 
over land, too ; you don't need no boat. / could git out 
o' the swamp in half a day by that trail." 

Joe wondered how long it would take him and Charley 
to reach the outer world by the same path ; and it occurred 
to him that if Asa could only be with them, the three 
might slip away, and make good their escape, while the 
deserters were engaged in cutting the bee-tree. He was 


also a good deal surprised that Hardy should mention the 
existence of such a trail, little dreaming that the big de- 
serter, in his present troubled state of mind, would gladly 
see the two young prisoners make their escape. The boys 
little knew that their friend even felt disposed to assist 
them in getting off, provided he could do so without excit- 
ing suspicion among the men, and provided they would go 
and leave Asa behind. 

Hardy rightly believed that there were a thousand 
chances to one against the boys being able to guide a party 
of soldiers to Deserters' Island, even supposing the soldiers 
could be spared for such duty in these days of misfortune 
and disaster ; but the odds were far less great against the 
ability of the negro to do the like, and, besides, Asa's labor 
was wanted in the camp. 

And so the two boys had been invited to go to Honey 
Island, and on the way the hint was given them, although 
the prospects of their successful escape were threatened by 
the presence of Jones and Lofton. 

" Charley," called out the last-named when the island 
was reached, " pick up that piece o' rope in yer boat and 
fetch it along ; we '11 need it, mebby." 

The boats had been run aground several yards from dry 
land, and all hands were now wading out, Charley being 
the last to step into the water, carrying the desired coil 
of rope. 

" I b'lieve I kin go right to one," said Bubber Hardy^ 
as soon as they had struggled through the dense " ham- 
mock," and gained the higher level of the island. " When 
I was huntin' over h-yer, week before last, I seen lots and 


cords o' bees, and I watched which way they was flyin'. 
If I 'd 'a' had time, I could 'a' spotted cue right then." 

No one was surprised, therefore, when, less than an hour 
later, a bee-tree was found. Pausing under a tall pine, the 
big deserter turned to his followers, and pointed to an 
almost continuous stream of bees, quite black against the 
bright sky, issuing from an unseen hole in the trunk of the 
tree a few inches above the lowest branch, but more than 
sixty feet from the ground. 

It was now midday, and before attacking the tree, the 
party sat down on the grass, and ate the lunch which Asa 
had provided. Tlien, without any unnecessary waste of 
time, Jones and Lofton rose and vigorously plied their 
axes on opposite sides of the tree. Scarcely had the chips 
begun to fly, when Bubber Hardy suddenly addressed Joe 
in a lowered voice. 

"You boys kin take yer gun and run around for a little 
hunt while we are cuttin' the tree and getherin' the honey," 
he said. "Maybe you'll strike that trail I told you 'bout," 
he added. 

" I 'd rather stay and see you get the honey," said Charley, 
watching the flying of the chips with great interest. 

" No, come along," urged Joe, in a tone the seriousness of 
which his little brother could not mistake. 

" You kin git all the honey you want when you come 
back," said Hardy, smiling at the little fellow. 

Charley yielded, evidently against his own wishes ; 
and, involuntarily snatcliing up the coil of rope, which 
he had carried so long, he followed liis brother into the 


" This is as good a chance to get away as we '11 ever have," 
said Joe, as soon as they were out of hearing. 

" Get away, — without Asa ? " asked Charley, astonished. 

"Yes. We'll have to leave him, — we can't lielp it, I 
thought it over wliile we were coming in the boat, and I 
made up my mind to try it if tliere was half a chance. If 
we hurry down to the other end of the island and find tliat 
trail Mr. Hardy spoke about, we may get out of the swamp 
by night." 

" But I hate to leave Asa," said Charley, regretfully. 

" Never mind. Wait till I guide a lot of soldiers in 
here ; then we '11 get Asa ! " 

Joe had been pushing ahead while he spoke, followed by 
the half-reluctant Charley, and he now began to move 
forward in great liaste. 

The watchful Jones had not failed to note the disappear- 
ance of the boys, and he immediately began to show signs 
of fatigue, drawing his breath very hard, putting in his 
strokes more slowly, and finally pausing altogether, with an 
exclamation indicating that his exhaustion was complete. 

"Tired out a'ready?" asked Bubber, contemptuously ; 
and, taking the axe, which was willingly resigned to him, 
he began to swing it with great vigor and despatch. 

This was precisely what the cunning Jones desired, and 
he lost no time in darting into the bushes on the track of 
the two boys. Half an hour later, as Joe and Charley 
hurried forward, leaping over logs and dashing through the 
crowding under-brush, the former happened to glance in 
the direction whence they had come, and as he did so dis- 
tinctly saw a man leap behind a tree. 


" It 's no use, Charley," he said, sto^iping short. " Bud 
Jones is following us. I saw him jump behind a tree." 

The boys sat down, panting, on a log, and after a few 
moments Joe proposed that they go forward more slowly a 
half-mile further, and then return to the bee-tree, just as if 
their trip had been a hunt and nothing more. 

"I'd fioht him before I'd surrender, if he were alone," 
said the elder boy, fiercely, looking toward the spot where 
he had seen Jones. " But the first thing he 'd do would be 
to whoop up the others, and it would be useless for me to 
try to do anything." 

Joe swallowed his disappointment and chagrin philo- 
sophically, and proceeded to give his attention to the pur- 
suit of game, picking his way through the brush slowly and 
cautiously. At length he halted and signed to Charley to 
be quiet, as a crow suddenly cawed and flew out of a tree 
two or three hundred yards in their front. 

"That crow saw something, I'll bet," he whispered 

And when presently fresh bear-tracks were discovered, 
he added triumphantly, — 

"I told you so!" 

The tracks soon led them into what was doubtless the 
path of an aforetime tornado, the ground being crowded 
with uprooted trees, which had been thrown across each 
other at every angle, and lay "heaped in confusion dire." 
Here the trail was lost, but the boys still cautiou.sly 

At the terminus of a hundred yards, standing on an 
elevated log and looking forward, Joe became greatly ex- 


cited at the discovery, uot twenty feet away, of a small open 
space covered with a deep drift of pine needles, in tlie 
centre of which were two round depressions or beds, some 
fifteen inches deep and not less than four feet in diameter. 
In one of these were two young bears, evidently asleep, 
the mother being probably out feeding. 

Signing to Charley to be very quiet but to come quickly, 
Joe waited until his little brother stood beside him on the 
log, and had seen what neither were likely to have the 
opportunity of seeing again. For, indeed, as the deserters 
afterwards declared, it was a " find " as remarkable as 

" Don't shoot 'em ! " pleaded Charley, as Joe lifted his 
oun to take aim. " Let's catch one of 'em alive and take it 
to Billy. We can tie it with this piece of rope." 

" Well, we can try it," assented Joe, determining not to 
fire unless the attempt at capture failed. 

Cautiously they stole down the log and stepped upon the 
soft carpet of pine-needles, but now, unfortunately, a twig 
snapped under Charley's foot, and one of the little bears 
lifted its head and looked arou-nd. An instant later cub 
number one leaped to its feet with a gruff snort and bolted 
into the bushes, but before number two had followed, Joe 
was upon him. 

Letting his gun fall, the boy leaped forward, alighting 
astride of the cub's back and grasping its ears with both 
hands. Uttering a peculiar sound, partaking of both an 
angry snarl and a terrified whimper, the vigorous little 
bear tried to jump ; but Joe exerted all his strength and 
successfully held it down, the frantic cub meanwhile tear- 


iug up the bed of piue needles with its well-grown and 
powerful claws, and struggling furiously to get at its 

By this time Charley had made a slip-knot, as he was 
directed, and passed the rope around the animal's neck. 
Seizing firm hold of the other end of the rope, Joe rose 
and let the cub go. 

" We 'd better look out for the old one now," he said 

Eeleased, the cub ran away with great precipitation, 
dragging the boy after it, along a path which fortunately 
led out into the more open pine woods, and in the direction 
of the bee-tree. 

" Bring my gun," called Joe, and picking it up, Charley 
ran after him, trying to keep a sharp look-out for the " old 
one," as he was warned to do. 

As long as the cub ran in the right direction, no effort 
was made to check its progress ; but before a great while 
it turned off abruptly to the right, and then Joe was forced 
to exert all his strength in order to drag it after him. 
Even then his efforts would have been comparatively with- 
out result, had not Charley, who proudly covered their 
retreat, gun in hand, frightened the little bear from be- 
hind with a frequent shove of his foot. 

Within a few minutes Bubber Hardy had become aware 
of Jones's absence, and he was not slow to suspect the 
cause thereof; but he went on cutting without a word, 
concluding that it would be wiser not to interfere. When 
Jones reappeared, tliree quarters of an hour later, offering 
some trivial excuse for his absence. Hardy concluded that 


the boys had successfully eluded their pursuer. By this 
time the tree was down, the hollow had been located, and, 
protected from the angry bees by the smoke from burning 
rags, the three men proceeded to cut into the tree and secure 
the stores of honey. 

Jones had followed the boys far enough to become con- 
vinced that they were really off on a hunt and would ere 
long return ; but great was the surprise of all when Joe 
and Charley at length appeared, dragging the young bear 
after them. 

" Well, I '11 be switched if that don't beat all ! " exclaimed 
Hardy, dropping a bucket of honey and going to meet the 

Before there was time for an explanation, a sound as of 
a hurrying, bulky body was heard in the brush, out of 
which captors and captive had just made their appearance, 
■N^arning all hands to be on their guard. 

" It 's the old one ! " cried Joe, and, surrendering the rope 
to Charley, he snatched his gun and stood ready, just as a 
large she-bear dashed into the open, and came toward them, 
snarling fiercely, and clearly determined to battle for her 
vounu'. There are few animals more dang;erous when at 

I/O O 

bay, or bearded in tlie den, and, not daring to trust to Joe's 
marksmanship, Hardy ran for his own weapons. 

Joe fired promptly and with good effect, although trem- 
bling with excitement. The load of buck-shot pierced the 
animal's tough hide between the neck and left shoulder, 
causing it to halt with a hoarse wliine or growl of pain. 
But only for a moment. With a maddened snort, the bear 
came on more fiercely than ever, until a bullet from Hardy's 


rille entered a vital part, causing the bulky form to roll 
over on its side in the agonies of death. 

As Hardy and Joe ran forward to examine the prize 
cries were heard from Jones aud Lofton, who were now 
seen running wildly, pursued by dozens of infuriated bees. 
In their absorbed interest in the shooting of the bear, the 
two men had forgotten the necessary manipulation of the 
burning rags, allowing them to go out, and were now simul- 
taneously attacked by the determined little citizens whose 
walls had been rudely broken open, and the fruits of whose 
busy labors were being seized. 

After a hot pursuit of a hundred yards or more, the bees 
returned to their rifled storehouse and the robbers were 
allowed to escape, not, however, before each had been stung 
several times. 

" I saw you sneakin' along behind and watchin' us," said 
Joe, contemptuously, to Jones, when later all hands stood 
looking on as Hardy skinned the bear. 

" Who, me ? I was lookin' for another bee-tree," was 
the ready answer. 

A chain was brought from the boats ; and the captive cub, 
which had gnawed the rope in two and very nearly effected 
its escape, was permanently secured therewith. Shortly 
afterward, laden M'ith many pounds of the choicest steaks, 
the bear's hide, and two buckets of honey, not to mention 
the young cub, which the boys forced after them, the party 
returned to the boats and paddled homeward. 



DUEING the return trip, strange as it might seem, Joe 
and Charley were the most cheerful ones of the party. 
The faces of Jones and Lofton were by this time swollen 
almost beyond recognition ; and the pain and vexation 
which they suffered often drove them to swear furiously. 
Bubber Hardy suffered no physical pain, but his mood was 
scarcely more agreeable. Asa's perceptions guided him 
aright when he asserted that the big deserter was " hurted " 
in his mind. 

The two boys, on the other hand, were so delighted over 
their successful capture of the young bear, and had been 
so much diverted by the many unusual incidents of the 
day, that they almost forgot their own captivity, and hardly 
even regretted their recent failure to escape, especially as 
Joe felt doubts of the advisability of their making the 
attempt without Asa. 

The party reached Deserters' Island an hour after dark, 
and great was the sensation around the camp-fire when 
Joe and Charley appeared with their prize, and the honey, 
the bear-meat, and the skin were exhibited. 

Billy almost danced with delight at sight of the cub, 
and was soon busying himself preparing something for it 
to eat. 


•' Well, I depend if them two boys ain't a sight in this 
world ! " declared the new-comer, Jenkins, with undisguised 

" Kafe and Jim come back this evenin'," announced Sweet 
Jackson, as the " cock of the walk " appeared, referring to 
two of the deserters, who had gone out of the swamp a day 
or two since in quest of meal and salt. 

" Did they git the salt ? " Hardy asked. 

"Yes, and two bushels o' meal." 

" We kin do without meal, but we got to have salt." 

" And they brung a live gander," put in Jenkins. " What 
do you say, boys ? Less have a gander-pulliu' to-morrow," 
he continued, looking from one to another. 

" We ain't got no horses nor no race-track," objected one 
of the men. 

" Oh, we '11 jes' swing him up and run round and grab at 
him on foot. We '11 git jes' as much fun out o' it that-a 
way. I 've seen it done when ther' want no horses nor 
mules nair one on hand." 

" Anything for a little fun," seemed to be the consensus 
of opinion, and a gander-pulling for the morrow was forth- 
with agreed on. 

Before lie climbed into the loft that night, Joe sought 
speech with Asa. 

" I 'm afraid Charley and I won't be able to keep awake 
to-night," he said. " But we must try it to-morrow night." 

" All right, Mas' Joe," assented Asa. " To-morrow night, 
den. Ef we don't git off scot free, we '11 gie 'em some fun 
ketchin' us, anyhow." 

The gander-pulling took place on the following after- 


noon. During the morning two stout poles about fifteen 
feet long had been sunk into the ground some six or eight 
feet apart and a rope swung loosely from the top of one to 
the otlier. To this, when the hour arrived, the gander's 
feet were securely tied, so that the fowl's neck swung 
within easy reach of a man of average height. 

About four o'clock in the afternoon the doomed fowl was 
hung up, its long neck having first been thoroughly greased. 
Both operations were violently objected to and jealously 
watched by Billy, who had already adopted the gander as 
one of his pets. 

All hands having gathered to the spot, the new-comer 
Jenkins, who seemed to be the leading spirit in this festiv- 
ity, passed round a hat and took up a collection as a prize 
for the as yet unknown victor. As nearly every one con- 
tributed something, the sum raised was not inconsiderable. 
Asa, Billy, the two boys, and Bubber Hardy formed a 
party of spectators, all the other men, eight in number, 
proposing to enter the contest. When asked why he did 
not take part, Hardy briefly replied, — 

''■ I ain't a-hankerin' after no such tomfoolery to-day." 

Lots having been drawn in order to determine who 
should have the first trial, the second, the third, and so on, 
Mitch' Jenkins looked about him, with an air of impor- 
tance and responsibility, shouting, — 

" Gentlemen, is you ready ? Let 'er go ! Everything 's 
lovely, and the goose hangs high ! " 

Thereupon Sweet Jackson, who had drawn the first lot, 
took a position on a line drawn about fifty feet from the 
two posts, and at a given signal started forward at a rapid 


run. As he nearecl the swiuging gander, his right hand 
was thrust upward, and he endeavored to seize the fowl by 
its neck, but without success, the gander cunningly twist- 
ing its head out of reach. 

A loud guffaw went up from all sides, as this signal fail- 
ure to wring the fowl's greased neck was witnessed. Bud 
Jones, the swelling of whose face had subsided, now ran 
forward and made the attempt with no better success. 
Then came the turn of Zack Lofton, whose face still mutely 
bespoke the revenge taken by the despoiled bees. He 
succeeded in firmly grasping the gander's neck, and but 
for the treacherous grease, its head would have accom- 
panied him in his onward rush. 

Released, the unhappy fowl swung back and forth, hiss- 
ing and squawking in an extremely ludicrous and yet 
pathetic manner, exciting the laughter of the crowd, the 
pity of Charley, the indignation of Joe, and the teard and 
angry objections of Billy. 

" Quit it ! Quit it, I tell you ! You-all let my gander 
alone ! " screamed the witless young man again and again, 
as the contest continued. 

Once he ran between the two posts and made efforts to 
take the fowl down, but retired, whimpering, upon receiv- 
ing a resounding box on the ear from Sweet. 

" It 's wicked to torture that poor gander in tliat way," de- 
clared Joe, indignantly. " Why don't they kill it at once ? " 
he asked of Hardy. 

" Would n't be no fun in that," was the answer. 

After all hands had made several trials and the gander's 
greasy neck had received a number of rude wrenches, the 


poor fowl held its head less high, ceased to hiss, and 
sc^uawked more plaintively than ever. Tlie game was 
easier now, and almost every contestant succeeded in grasp- 
ing the neck as he ran past ; but however firm his grip, 
the gander's greased head would inevitably slip from his 

At length, after the contest had lasted fully an hour and 
a half, and the object of this cruel sport had almost ceased 
to make any outcry whatever, Zack Lofton leaped upward 
as he ran by and grasped the neck of the fowl near its 
breast. As his body was carried onward by the force of 
its momentum, his tightly gripped hand slipped like light- 
ning along the gander's neck, but paused at its head. For 
one moment the man's body swung from the ground, his 
whole weight supported by the neck of the still living 
fowl. It was then that he gave his arm and hand a vigor- 
ous twist, and the next moment landed on his feet some 
distance beyond the posts, carrying the gander's head with 

" Mr. Lofton gits the prize," cried Jenkins, walking 
over to the victor and pouring the collection into his 

" He did n't git it fair," declared the disappointed Jack- 
son, in loud, angr}'- tones. " Who cant wring off a gander's 
neck if he swings on to it that-a way ? I say hit want 

"We all had the same chance to do what he did," ar- 
gued Jenkins, good-humoredly. " The trouble was we 
could n't keep our grip." 

" That 's right," agreed several others. 


" And I say hit want no ways fair ! " repeated Jackson, 
in great anger. 

Flushed with victory, Lofton did not pause to calculate 
consequences (for Jackson was a dangerous man) and 
promptly gave his accuser the lie, which, in local par- 
lance, was equivalent to the " first lick." 

Sweet Jackson's face turned livid, and, whipping out a 
long knife, he leaped toward Lofton. The uplifted blade 
descended before it could be warded off, and, as the other 
men rushed in and forcibly separated the enraged com- 
batants, the two boys, looking on with all their eyes, noted 
a long narrow red streak all across Lofton's forehead and 
left cheek. An instant later this had expanded an inch in 
width, and presently the man's whole face was covered 
with blood. 

" Oh, yes, Zack Lofton, see now what you got for pullin' 
off my gander's head ! " cried Billy, triumphantly, dancing 
about and giggling. " See what you got now! I wish my 
gander knowed it. I '11 bet he does know, too. Anyhow 
he'll know by and by, and he'll laugh. He'll have a 
good laufrh." 

" Shut up your tomfoolery ! " commanded Bubber, as he 
passed the half-witted young man, and proceeded to care 
for the wounded. 

Sweet Jackson was forced away in one direction and 
Lofton in another, botli cursing witli great fury, and each 
vowing that he would take the life of the otlier. 

Meanwhile the two boys and the negro remained immov- 
able in their places, wondering what would happen next, 
until Billy approached and, cutting down the headless body 


of the gander, was about to bear it away. Then Asa inter- 

" Gim-me dat gander, boy," he said, laughing. " Quit 
yer foolin'. Quit yer behavishness, I tell you ! We got 
to hab dat gander fer dinner to-morrer, you see hit so." 

Lofton now lay on his back on the grass, and Bubber 
Hardy was on his knees, bending over him and wiping 
away the blood. The cut across the cheek was so deep 
that it was found necessary to sew it up, to which opera- 
tion Lofton submitted without resistance, but groaned as if 
in great pain. Having done all that seemed necessary or 
possible. Hardy assisted the wounded man into the loft, 
bade him lie down in his corner, and made him as com- 
fortable as the circumstances would permit. 

The " cock of the walk " then sought out Sweet Jackson 
and spoke to him with a serious, determined air, after 
which that pugnacious individual rapidly cooled down, 
ceasing the profane and threatening speeches in which he 
had been loudly indulging since the moment he was 
dragged away from his foe. 

Notwithstanding this violent termination to the festive 
gander-pulling, the deserters, M'ith the exception of Bubber 
Hardy and the wounded man, were not slow to recover 
their wonted spirits, and after a hearty supper they sat 
about the fire and joked, laughed, sang corn-shucking songs, 
and drank in the greatest possible good-humor. 

Asa smiled covertly, and shook his head. This was a 
" deviation " of a kind which by no means pleased him. 
Wliere all this would end was more than he could be sure 
of, and he trembled for the future. 


" Look yuh, Mas' Joe," he said to the boy, with a comi- 
cal air, " I want to git away f um dis place 'fo' somebody 
draw a knife od me an' cut my t'roat." 

" Well, let 's make a break to-night," the boy proposed, 
and the negro agreed. 

"Dis a good night to try it," whispered Asa, as Joe 
was preparing to climb into the loft about ten o'clock. 
" De niose o' de mens is half drunk, an' dey '11 sleep hard — 
cep'n hit 's Mr. Lofton. You better look out for him ; he '11 
lay wake mose all night like ez not. Don't you move a 
foot tell 'way late 'bout two o'clock, or we '11 ketch de ve'y 



CHAPiLEY was told that escape would be attempted 
that night ; but very soon after they had lain down 
on their bed of moss in the corner of the loft lie fell asleep, 
leaving the responsibility, as was natural, to his brother 
and the negro. Not so Joe, who lay awake for hours, 
listening, waiting, planning. 

The watchful boy was soon aware that Bubber Hardy, 
although probably asleep, was very restless, and would, no 
doubt, be awakened by the slightest sound. As for Lofton, 
it seemed doubtful whether he slept at all, for every few 
minutes he gave utterance to a sigh or groan of pain. 

At last Joe began to fear that there was no hope of their 
being able to escape from the loft at all that night, and in 
the midst of discouragement sleep overtook him. 

When he awoke, all was quiet in the loft, except for the 
loud snoring of several of the men. Neither the restless 
Hardy nor the wounded Lofton now made any sound. 
Joe could not tell why he thought so, but he felt con- 
vinced that it was near morning. Lifting himself guard- 
edly upon his knees, he bent over his sleeping brother, and 
endeavored to rouse him. 

FLIGHT. 107 

" Wake up, Charley ! " he whispered, his mouth almost 
touching the little boy's ear. " Wake up ! It 's time for 
us to start." 

" Let me alone ! What are you pushin' me for ? " said 
Charley, stupidly, and so loud that Joe was terrified, and 
allowed the boy to relapse into slumber. 

Having listened intently for a few moments and hearing 
no one stirring in the loft, Joe made another effort, and 
presently had the satisfaction of rousing Charley into 
complete wakefulness without unnecessary noise. 

He then took his little brother's hand, and together they 
crept along the wall until they stood opposite the hole in 
the floor. On the way, Joe, who was ahead, stumbled over 
an outstretched foot, and narrowly escaped falling. The 
disturbed sleeper turned over, grunted, muttered a few 
unintelligible words, and all was quiet again. 

Just as the boys were preparing to swing themselves 
down through the opening, not daring to put down the 
ladder, one of the sleepers stirred noisily, and they heard 
the voice of Lofton demanding, — 

" Who 's that ? " 

Drawing back into the deep shadow, the boys stood 
silent, holding their very breath. The challenge was 
repeated, but they made no answer. Then, for perhaps a 
quarter of an hour, they stood in their tracks, hardly mov- 
ing a muscle, breathing softly, and fearing that even the 
violent beating of their hearts would be heard. 

Convinced at last that the wounded man had relapsed 
into slumber, they noiselessly swung themselves down 
through the opening and dropped to the ground below. 


Several dogs, lying asleep beneath the loft, now rose and 
followed the hoys with signs of great cheerfulness, evi- 
dently anticipating a night hunt. 

Their first object in view was to " turn Asa out," as 
Charley said. Such phraseology suggests a pen rather 
than a house, and so indeed the negro's nightly prison 
was called ; but in reality it was a rough shanty of large 
pine saplings, the door being secured from without by a 
leau-to formed of a section of a heavy log about twelve feet 
in length. Having lifted this away and let it down 
gently on the ground, the door was opened, and Asa came 
forth, rubbing his eyes, and whispering, — 

" I clean give you out, and went to sleep. Hit 's mose 
daylight," he added, " an' we better be gwine quick." 

After a hurried consultation it was decided to "cut 
across " the island and take the trail through the jungle, 
rather than go upon the prairie in a boat, where daylight 
would soon discover them to view. Besides, on the prairie 
they were likely to go astray, but, once on the jungle 
trail, they were comparatively safe in that respect. Asa 
wanted to secrete the boats as. a blind; but it was now 
so near morning that the time could not be spared. 

" Let 's take the dogs," suggested Joe, " so that the 
deserters can 't track us. After we get a good start of five 
or six miles, we can whip 'em and make 'em go back. 
We '11 be out of the swamp then before tliey can catch us." 

Asa agreed to this, and accordingly the dogs were 
called softly. The whole pack, five in number, followed 
willingly, as the two boys and the negro hurried away 
from the camp. The four miles of tlie island were covered 

FLIGHT. 109 

with the greatest possible speed. Wherever the ground 
was sufficiently open to permit it they ran, Asa leading 
Charley by the hand ; and even in the brush they pushed 
forward rapidly, careless of scratched hands and faces and 
torn clothing. 

Faint light streamed through the tree-tops from the 
whitening sky overhead before they had traversed half the 
length of the island, and by the time they reached its 
limit broad daylight surrounded them. The fugitives now 
observed with considerable concern that the dogs had 
disappeared, and surmised that they had returned to camp. 

" Dey knowed sump'n wrong was up," said Asa, 

They soon found the trail and hurried into tlie jungle, 
careless of the mud and water, the thorny brambles, and 
the possible moccasins, absorbed in their intense desire to 
escape and the necessity of great haste; for they knew 
well that within an hour's time the deserters would begin 
the pursuit. 

Asa, who led the way, now paused suddenly ; and open- 
ing a tin bucket which he carried on his arm, he urgently 
advised Joe and Charley to help themselves to some of the 
cold bread and meat therein, and put it into their pocketi. 

" Gwine to be hard to keep tergedder, when de dogs git 
at us," he said, — adding, " but if you-all git lost fum me, 
don't you give up ; you keep gwine right on by yo'selt 
tell you git home." 

Pressing on with great energy for an hour longer, and 
not as yet hearing any sounds indicating pursuit, they 
began to feel more secure ; and by and by, at the urgent 


request of Charley, who was beginning to fag, they sat 
down on a log, and refreshed themselves with some of 
the cold food. 

" We got to be gwine ! " cried Asa, some fifteen minutes 

He had sprung to his feet, as the distant baying of dugs 
fell faintly on his ear. All knew at once that the desert- 
ers were on their trail, and that there was no time to lose. 

" Yuh, Charley, you git on my back, an' Mas' Joe, you 
foller behine me an' do des what you see me do," said Asa. 

Catching the little fellow up and putting him astride of 
his neck, the negro dashed forward over tlie difficult 
ground, jumping from tussock to tussock, stepping upon 
roots and masses of dry moss, and avoiding every bit of 
soft exposed earth where a track would remain imprinted. 
Whenever a fallen log ran parallel with their course, he 
sprang upon it and walked its full length. Once he made 
a complete circle, two hundred yards or more in diameter, 
then, springiug forward upon a fallen log several feet be- 
yond the limits of this circle, and directing Joe to do like- 
wise, he pressed forward again over the direct course. 

This manceuvre was intended to delay the dogs, and 
perhaps throw them off the scent ; but before a great while 
it became evident that it had not succeeded. For the 
barking, instead of gradually subsiding in the distance, as 
they had hoped it would, after a short cessation became 
more vigorous than before, and unmistakably drew nearer. 
Ere long it was perfectly clear that only a few minutes 
could elapse before the dogs would overtake them. 

" Will they bite us ? " asked Charley, anxiously. 


" No," said Joe ; " they know us. What ought we to do ? " 
he continued, looking at Asa, who had come to a halt. 
" Suppose we shoot them ? I could load up and shoot 
them one by one. I 'd hate to do it, but we have a right 
to do it." 

Joe carried his gun and Charley his hatchet. The negro 
had only a butcher-knife, but it was a sharp and dangerous 
weapon, the blade gleaming brightly where it stuck in his 

" Better let me go fer 'em wid dis knife," said Asa, 
shaking his head. " You shoot dat gun, an' de 'zerters '11 
know right whar we is." 

Further discussion was cut short by a yelp so close in 
their rear that all knew the dogs would be upon them in a 
few moments. Bidding the boys conceal themselves, Asa 
ran back a few yards over the trail, and took his stand 
behind a large pine. 

As the foremost dog, a big ugly cur, rushed past, the 
negro leaned over, and with almost incredible quickness, 
seized the animal's ear with his left hand, and with his 
right brought the long knife upward across its throat, 
severing windpipe and jugular vein at a single stroke. 
With a stifled cry in its throat, the dog rolled over on the 
ground and lay still, whereupon the four others took to 
their heels on the backward track with yelps of affright. 
There was not a bloodhound among them, and they were 
for the most part the commonest of piny-woods curs. 

The three fugitives now hurried onward as before, and 
for an hour they heard nothing more from the dogs. 
Finally a subdued, and, as it were, muffled yelp began to 


be heard at intervals. Asa looked puzzled and several 
times paused to listen, showing great anxiety when he 
became convinced that the sounds were drawing nearer. 
At last he told Joe that he believed the deserters held the 
dogs in leash, their object being to steal upon the unsus- 
pecting fugitives, who would likely halt to rest in fancied 

" I bet dey 're comin' like forty,'" the negro concluded ; 
" an' ef we aiu't mighty spry, dey '11 nab us 'fo' we know 

" Can't we put the dogs off the scent in some way ? " 
asked Joe, looking about him. 

They were now in a dense thicket of poplars and oaks, 
gay with the first full leafage of spring ; and a hundred 
yards ahead the ground sloped downward and was evi- 
dently covered for some distance with water. 

"I believe we could 'climb up one of these trees and 
swing from limb to limb until \\q got out yonder over that 
water," proposed Joe, eagerly. " Then we could slip down 
and wade as far as the water went, then climb up again, 
and if the trees are still thick enough, go on a good ways. 
That would break the trail." 

" You mighty right," assented Asa ; " if only we able to 
do it. Maybe hit '11 be easy enough for you boys, but 
hit won't be so easy for me." 

" Let 's try it, anyhow," urged Joe, and they at once 
began preparations. 

Charley stuck his hatchet in his belt, and with the help 
of Asa, and by means of some stout twine found in their 
pockets, Joe strapped his gun across his back. Asa having 

FLIGHT. 113 

disposed of his bucket in a similar way, and all now hav- 
ing their hands and arms free, they began the climb. 

The youngest, who was light, active, and an expert tree- 
climber, led the way. Lifting himself among the larger 
branches of a spreading poplar, Charley found it compara- 
tively easy to walk out on a lower limb, — while grasping 
a higher, — until he could lay hold of a stout, interlacing 
branch, and swing himself safely among the larger arms 
of a neighboring oak. 

Joe was probably sixty pounds heavier tlian Charley, 
and found the feat much more difficult. The limb which 
had borne his brother's weight bent dangerously beneath 
his own ; and when he finally seized a branch of the neigh- 
boring tree, he grasped it so near its terminus that he 
swung halfway down to the ground, and had not the bend- 
ing branch been one of tough oak, it would probably have 
given way, and precipitated him to the earth. 

Hand over hand the boy swung toward the tree's trunk, 
and once there he halted to catch his breath and watch 
Asa. The negro might well hesitate, for he weighed nearly 
a hundred pounds more than Joe. After a few tentative 
movements, he saw clearly that his only hope was in a 
bold leap into the branches of the neighboring tree, trust- 
ing to the spreading of his arms and legs, and to his quick, 
firm grasp to arrest his descent to the ground. 

The sound of a muffled yelp from the dogs, unmistak- 
ably coming from a point only a few hundred yards away, 
decided Asa. He took the dangerous leap, and landed 
among the stout branches of the oak unharmed, save for a 
few scratches and bruises which he scarcely felt. 



" \ T THY don't you come on ? " called out Charley, who 
• * had rapidly transported himself from the second 
tree to a third, and from the third to a fourth, imagining, 
with boyish vanity, that his superior speed was due solely 
to superior agility. 

Joe followed more slowly and warily, but surely. In 
about ten minutes, the two boys had transported them- 
selves more than a hundred yards without once setting 
foot on the ground, and were now above the water. 

" Don' wait fer me," called out Asa, softly, in answer to a 
low whistle from Joe. " Git down in dat water an' go on 
fas' ez you hin. I '11 git dere binieby." 

Swinging themselves down from tlie tree in which they 
had halted, Joe and Charley waded forward in water var}'- 
ing in depth from one to three feet. At the end of about 
a hundred and fifty yards the land sloped upward again, 
and the boys saw what was comparatively dry land ahead 
of them. However, they were afraid to set foot thereon 
as yet, and, climbing a tree (for the vegetation was almost 
as dense where the water stood as elsewhere), they swung 
themselves forward as before. 

Meanwhile Asa was in trouble. After leaping success- 
fully three or four times, he at last — while the boys w^ere 


wading forward in the water — failed to gain a firm hold 
of the branches through which his heavy body descended, 
and, though his fall was broken, he struck the ground with 
great force, and was for a few moments considerably 

A sudden chorus of barks from the rapidly approaching 
dogs roused him to action. Struggling to his feet, he laid 
hold of the poplar-tree, into which he had attempted to 
jump, and climbed with some difficulty into its branches. 
The unfortunate man felt that he could not jump again, 
and that the only and forlorn resource open to him was 
to conceal himself as best he could in the foliage of the 

Scarcely had the trembling of the leaves and branches 
subsided, when the pursuers arrived. The party consisted 
of Sweet Jackson, Bud Jones, and three others. They 
held the dogs in leash, as Asa had suspected, but were 
marching with the greatest possible speed. Reaching the 
point where the trail came to an end, the dogs one and all 
halted, snuffing the air in a mystified way, and could not 
be forced forward. 

" They must be round h-yer some'rs," declared Sweet 
-Jackson, in his usual loud, grating voice. 

The two boys had halted in the same tree in order to 
wait for Asa ; and, on looking back and observing that he 
had not even reached the water as yet, they became 
alarmed. Joe was about to whistle, when he heard Jack- 
son's familiar voice and a moment later the yelps of the 
puzzled dogs. 
. " Oh, now they '11 catch Asa ! " cried Charley. 


" Hush ! " cautioned Joe ; and then the two remained 
silent, listening intently. 

" Mebby they tuck a tree," the boys now heard one of 
the men suggest. 

A silence followed, and it was evident that the members 
of the party had separated and were scanning the neigh- 
boring tree-tops. Suddenly one of the dogs began to bay, 
and a few moments later. Bud Jones' voice was heard, — 

" H-yers one of 'em up this tree ! " 

The dog had snuffed the spot where he fell on the 
ground, and poor Asa was discovered. " It 's the nigger," 
added Jones. 

" Shoot 'im, if he don't git down from thar quick," cried 
Jackson, savagely. 

Instantly the branches of the poplar began to tremble, 
and Asa descended with all speed. 

" Now whar 's them two boys ? " demanded several at 
once, as the negro was roughly seized, and his hands tied 
behind his back. 

" Who me ? I dunno w'ere dey is," declared Asa. 

A chorus of angry curses greeted this speech. 

" My hands jes' eech to git a hold o' you," cried the 
truculent Jackson. " £f you was n't Bubber's nigger an' 
he told me not to beat you, I 'd break ever' bone in yo' 
body. Wliur is them boys ? " 

"I can't tell you," stammered Asa, determined not to 
give the boys up if it could possibly be avoided. " All 
I know is dey 's a fur ways f am yuh. Dey got lost fum me 
'way back yonder w'ere we fout de dogs." 

Ejaculations of incredulity greeted this falsehood, and Asa 


was threatened with direful and immediate punishment if 
he did not tell the truth ; but he stuck to his story and 
finally it carried conviction, although his captors beat the 
neighboring brush for half an hour, endeavoring; in vain to 
start the dogs. 

" That was Eafe Wheeler's dog, you killed an' I reckon 
he '11 send you to see old Nick before he 's done with you," 
was the last threatening speech addressed to Asa which the 
boys overheard ; and shortly afterwards they felt convinced, 
from the few and faint sounds reaching them, that captors 
and captive were marching backward over the trail. 

" I 'm so sorry they caught Asa ; they '11 beat him, " 
whispered Charley, tears in his eyes. 

" Never mind," replied Joe. " Just wait until I guide a 
company of soldiers in here, then Asa '11 be revenged." 

By this time it was high -noon, and being no longer in 
fear of immediate capture, the boys had leisure to discover 
that they were very tired and hungry. But they well 
knew there was no time to be lost; and, as soon as they 
had eaten what remained of the cold meat and bread given 
them by Asa, they descended from the tree and pushed 

Soon after they had penetrated the jungle that morning 
the trail gradually faded, until Asa doubted whether they 
had really found it in the first place ; and after the dogs 
were heard on their track, the negro made no further effort 
to follow it, but pushed rapidly ahead in the general direc- 
tion taken, choosing the most open and passable ground. 
This was Joe's plan now. 

Toward mid-afternoon the ground began slowly to rise 


before tlieu), and the forest growth to become less and less 
dense, until finally they emerged from the low jungle 
region, and found themselves on an open pine ridge where 
the ground was covered with wire-grass and dotted with 
clumps of fan-palmettos. They believed they were now 
clear of the swamp ; and Charley was in the act of exclaim- 
ing in his delight, when Joe stopped him. 

" Hush ! " said the elder boy, — " look yonder." 

He pointed out a large, full-grown black bear about two 
hundred yards away. The animal was engaged in pulling 
up young palmetto shoots and eating the sweet and tender 
part near the root. After each pull it would rear up on its 
hind-legs and look cautiously over the tops of the jDalmettos 
in every direction. And so, no sooner had the boys seen the 
bear, than tlie bear saw the boys, and bolted precipitately 
into the palmetto brush before Joe had quite levelled liis 

" I smell smoke," said Charley, suddenly. 

They liad now tramped out into the open pine woods 
some half a mile, and the wind which blew into their faces 
wafted a distinctly smoky odor, suggesting a forest fire. 
The probability of this was presently confirmed by the 
sight of birds, insects, and here and there an animal, as a 
deer, a fox, squirrel, or a skunk, making rapidly toward 
the swamp. 

" Somebody must be burnin' off the woods for the cattle," 
said Joe. "If that's what it means, we are certainly out 
of the swamp at last." 

He referred to the common practice among the settlers of 
the backwoods borderiufr the Okefenokee of firing the 


woods in spriug, in order to destroy the year's crop of 
tough brown wire-grass, and so give place to a tender 
oreen growth on which the cattle might feed to better 

In a short time the boys began to see the fire here and 
there, and ere long they were confronted by an unbroken 
barrier of flame extending across the whole ridge. Their 
position was becoming every moment more dangerous, and 
Joe looked about him with some anxiety. The swamp 
half a mile behind them was a certain refuge, and he cal- 
culated that they could easily reach it ahead of the fire, but 
he was reluctant to turn back. While hesitating, his eye 
fell upon a small cypress pond, about three hundred yards 
to the left ; and he immediately started toward it on a run, 
calling on Charley to follow. 

Joe felt sure that, even if there were no water in the 
pond, the fire would not penetrate it. "Pond" is hardly 
the word to apply to these little groves of several dozen 
cypresses which are so frequently found in the pine barrens, 
although they always stand on low, swampy ground, which 
in wet weather is likely to be covered with a foot or two of 
water. A small puddle, about twenty feet in diameter, 
was found in the centre of this one, but the boys did not 
wade into it. As soon as they stood among the cypress 
" knees " and trod upon damp ground, they felt safe. 

Unlike the banyan-tree, which sends branches down- 
ward to take root, the cypress lifts its bulky parasite up- 
ward, in the form of what is locally termed a " knee." In 
the submerged swamps the boatman finds it necessary to 
look out for these very carefully, as they are often hidden 


just below the surface, and are as dangerous as unseen 

During a few moments, hot smoke filled the space sur- 
rounding the boys and almost stilled them ; but the fire 
itself merely burned round the edges of the pond and then 
passed on its roaring way, the wind soon clearing the atmos- 
phere. After waiting some little time for the ashes to cool, 
the boys emerged from their retreat and picked their way 
across the blackened ground. 

The wire-grass had entirely disappeared before the 
devouring flames, but the pines and scrub-oaks stood for the 
most part intact. Here and there some fallen and well- 
seasoned log still burned vigorously, and in a few instances, 
fire had run up on the oozing sap to the tops of the tallest 

Joe and Charley tramped over the blackened and heated 
earth a distance of about a mile and a lialf, hoping ere 
long to discover the shanty of some settler. But when at 
last they reached a " hammock " growth, and descended 
through it to the borders of a vast prairie or marsh, in 
every respect similar to the one adjoining Deserters' Island, 
this pleasing hope was given over with sighs of regret. 

It was now perfectly clear that they w^ere still within the 
borders of the great Okefenokee, and that they had just 
traversed one of its many islands or portions of elevated 
land. The origin of tlie fire puzzled Joe greatly at first ; 
but he concluded, with reason, that some hunter, or some 
one of the deserters, had recently been there, and the neg- 
lect of this person or persons to put out tlie camp-fire had 
resulted in the present extended conflagration. 


" It 's goiug to rain," said Joe, suddenly, looking up at 
the sky now rapidly darkening with clouds ; " and we 'd 
better fix some way to camp right away." 

A favorable spot on the outskirts of the hammock 
was chosen, and they hurriedly erected a " brush tent," 
similar to one or two which they had seen constructed 
during their stay among the deserters. A slender sapling 
was cut down and lashed at either end with bear-grass 
thongs to two trees about ten feet apart. Against this 
cross-bar, which was about four feet from the ground, eight 
or ten other saplings were leaned at an angle of about 
forty-five degrees, and less than a foot apart. Over these 
were then arranged upwards of one hundred palmetto fans, 
cut within a few feet of the spot, thus forming a thatch, 
which was protected against gusts of wind by two or three 
other saplings laid diagonally across. Such a palmetto- 
thatched lean-to provides a fairly good shelter, as long as 
the wind blows at the back against the thatch, and not 
into the open front. 

It was nearly dark when the work was finished, but it 
had not yet begun to rain. While Charley now gathered 
wood for their camp-fire, Joe took his gun and stole off 
into the woods, hoping to kill something for supper. He 
had scarcely advanced three hundred yards, when he saw a 
large bird fly through the tree-tops and alight on a 
branch within easy range. 

Joe fired, and the game dropped. When found and 
brought out into the open pines, where the light had not 
yet entirely failed, the boy was delighted to discover that 
he had shot a wild turkev. 


Some moss and brush having been gathered, and spread 
on the ground in the acute angle of the lean-to, and por- 
tions of the turkey having been broiled with fair success 
on glowing coals raked out of the fire, the boys satisfied 
their hunger, and lay down with a feeling of comfort 
which seemed hardly in keeping with their continuing 
misfortunes, and which cannot be said to have been les- 
sened by the harmless patter of the rain-drops on the 
thatch over their heads. 



IN the early morning tliey were awakened by the rain 
falling on their faces, and found their erstwhile dry 
and cosey retreat now thoroughly wet and uncomfortable. 
Not only did water percolate through the hastily con- 
structed thatch, but, the wind having clianged, the rain 
now beat in from the front. A slow, steady downfall had 
evidently continued throughout the night. 

" It's a set-in rain, and we 're goin' to have a hard time 
of it," said Joe, ruefully. 

It was only with the greatest difficulty and after pro- 
longed effort that they succeeded in building a fire, and by 
the time the remainder of the turkey, which had been 
hung out of the reach of marauding animals the night 
before, had been cooked and eaten, it was late in the 

What to do next was the vexing question. Even the 
night before, Joe had been troubled to answer. He dis- 
liked to turn back, fearing a possible encounter with a 
pursuing party of the deserters ; but the prairie barred 
further progress, unless the boys were willing to take the 
great risks involved in wading it, — through mud, slime, 
mosses, rushes, "bonnets," and what not, the water being 
in many places over their heads. 


" Let 's try it, Charley," Joe proposed at last. " We are 
wet to the skin anyhow ; and if we can't wade across, we 
can come back here, that 's all. If we once get across that 
prairie, I don't think it will take us long to find our way 
out of the swamp." 

The younger boy expressed his willingness to follow 
wherever the elder might lead, and preparations for the 
trying trip were at once begun. Both boys were good 
pwimmers ; but Joe was too wise to venture on a flooded 
marsh of unknown depth without some safeguard. As 
they had no boat, and would probably be unable to float 
a raft, even if one could be successfully constructed, he 
decided to take with them a section of a tree, to which 
they might cling, in case they should advance beyond their 
depth, and be unable to swim on account of the mosses, 
etc., with which the marsh water at so many points was 

After considerable search Joe found a dead pine which 
had broken into parts in its fall before a wind storm. A 
section of this, about fifteen feet long and a little more 
than a foot in diameter, was chosen. Having provided 
Charley and himself with a light slender pole some twelve 
feet in length, and strapped the gun, hatchet, powder-horn, 
shot-pouch, etc., between two short up-reaching branches 
of the log, although this promised to be almost a useless 
precaution as long as it rained, the boys proceedejl, and 
not without considerable difficulty, to launch what Joe 
termed their " life-preserv^er." 

While they were accomplishing this task, Charley made 
his first acquaintance with the great curiosity of the 


Okefenokee, which may be seen along the shores of almost 
all the islands within or bordering the prairies. Stepping 
off from the island shore, the little boy walked forward 
upon a seeming continuation of the land, — a mass of float- 
ing vegetable forms, intermingled with moss drift and 
slime, forming a compact floor capable of sustaining his 
weight, which, although it did not at once break through 
beneath him, could be seen to sink and rise at every step 
for twenty feet around. 

" Why, this ground moves!" cried Charley, astonished. 

" You 'd better look out ! " cried Joe. " It won 't hold 
you up much longer. It 's not ground at all ; it 's floating 
moss and stuff — " 

The speaker paused suddenly, as Charley now broke 
through, and stood in mud and water nearly up to his 

"The deserters call that moss and stuff 'floating 
batteries,' " continued Joe. " I don't know where they got 
such a funny name. Father knew about these places, and 
he said the Indians called them ' trembling earth.' 
That 's what the name of the swamp means, — ' Okefe- 
nokee,' or ' trembling earth.' " 

Once they had dragged their " life-preserver " over the 
"floating batteries," or "trembling earth," the boys made 
better progress, although they still had to contend with 
a submerged slimy moss of a green color {sjoliagnum) and 
a great variety of crowding rushes. As they staggered 
along, dragging the log, now only up to their knees in 
water, now bogging in the yielding ooze till the water 
rose above their waists, they were for a time much annoyed 


by a little black bug haunting the sedge, which stung like 
a wasp. 

The clouds still dropped a slow drizzle, and a mist lay 
upon the great marsh, in which the many little islands, 
clothed in dun-colored vegetation, loomed up in dim, 
uncertain outlines. As he looked toward them, Joe 
remarked that he had heard the deserters call the islands 
" houses," but that to him they now rather suggested huge 
phantom ships. 

Many cranes, herons, and " poor-jobs " had already risen 
at their approach and disappeared in the mist; and as they 
advanced farther out on the marsh where the water deep- 
ened and the sedge began to thin and to be succeeded by 
" bonnets," large flocks of ducks flew up, and occasionally 
a curlew skimmed across their course. 

Passing within a few hundred yards of one of the little 
islands, they noted that it was gi'own up at the edges \vith 
low "casina" bushes, and that other vegetation sloped 
gradually up to two or three tall cypresses in the centre, 
the whole being drearily decorated with trailing drifts of 
gray Spanish moss, intensifying "the already weird aspect. 

" It looks like a big circus tent," said Charley. 

The water still deepened ; and ere long they were obliged 
to swim, Joe with his left arm thrown over the forwaixl 
end of the log, and Charley with his right resting on the 
rear end. A few hundred yards further on they entered 
an open and perceptible current flowing almost at right 
angles to their course. 

" Let 's follow this," proposed Joe. " It will be so much 
easier to carry the log." 


So they swam on, floating their log with the gentle 
current which flowed narrowly between the bordering 
" bonnets," little dreaming that they were on the head 
waters of the famed Suwanee Eiver. 

Half an hour later they were startled at sight of a large 
turtle, more than three feet in length, floating lazily on 
the water as if asleep ; and as it sunk out of sight Joe 
began to feel some apprehension, recollecting that the 
deserters had said the prairies were full of " 'gator-holes." 

How far they travelled, floating on this current, they 
hardly knew, being unable to see landmarks for any dis- 
tance. As soon as one of the ghostly little islands floated 
past and disappeared in the mist, another would be out- 
lined in their front, and, being so much alike, the effect 
was very confusing. It was difficult to estimate either 
the distance they had traversed or the time that had 

" Oh, I 'm so cold and tired and hungry ! " protested 
Charley at last, and begged that they might land on the 
next " house." 

Accordingly, as soon as they were opposite another 
island, Joe struck out toward it through the "bonnets" 
and sedge, dragging the log after him. In this Avay they 
came presently into a little round open pool about a 
hundred feet in diameter, heedless of several dark floating 
objects a short distance ahead. Suddenly the water about 
them became curiously agitated, and with a cry of horror 
Joe looked toward Charley. 

" Jump up on the log ! " he said. " We 're in a 'gator- 


Neither of them could afterward have told how they 
did it ; but almost in a moment both stood on the log 
"balancing themselves with their long poles, which were 
thrust down to the bottom, the water being only about 
seven feet in depth. Under their weight the log sank so 
low that it was almost entirely submerged, and the position 
of the two boys was little improved, supposing they were 
to be attacked. 

The pool now seemed alive with alligators, large and 
small, for fifty feet around; and the boys were greatly ter- 
rified, although the huge scaly creatures still lay quiet on 
the water or swam lazily about, gazing at the intruders 
with their black, lustreless eyes. 

" They 're going to eat us up ! " gasped poor Charley, 
hardly able to maintain his upright position. 

" Don't be afraid," said Joe, iu a low voice, although des- 
perately afraid himself. " They don't look as if they wanted 
to hurt us. See how quiet they are." 

He then suggested that they pole the log out of its dan- 
gerous neighborhood, and this they did very slowly and 
cautiously, lifting their long sticks halfway out of the 
water and guardedly thrusting them to the bottom again. 
Although they passed within a few inches of some of the 
reptiles in the course of their retreat, the latter were not 
roused from their sleepy indifl'erence, and permitted an 
easy prey to escape them. 

There are doubtless many thrilling alligator stories which 
are vouched for on " good authority ; " but it is a fact that 
the species found in Southern Georgia and Florida have 
been rarely known to attack man except in self-defence. 


Shortly after leaving the alligator-hole the boys entered 
shallower water, and soon waded to the shores of the little 
" house " or island. Leaving their log safely lodged on the 
"trembling earth " formation, and having struggled through 
and over the same, they landed on firm but damp and 
spongy ground. The island was circular in form and 
hardly two hundred yards in diameter. Casina bushes 
fringed the shores, the vegetation gradually rising thence 
to a few tall cypresses in the centre. Everywhere the 
funereal Spanish moss fluttered in the breeze. 

It had now ceased raining ; but a dense mist still floated 
upon the great marsh. The raw atmosphere was no less 
cold than the water had been ; and the boys moved about 
shivering and most forlorn, bitterly regretting their attempt 
to cross the prairie. The wildness and desolation of the 
scene was in a manner intensified by the presence of two 
small gray eagles, which screamed in a harsh, shrill way, as 
they hovered about a large nest in the top of the only pine- 
tree on the island. 

The extreme weariness of their bodies and their sharp 
hunger were the only certain indications of the flight of 
time ; but as the light began to wane, the boys realized that 
they had been on the marsh many hours and had not 
landed on the island till late in the afternoon. 

It was now necessary to make some preparation for the 
night, and that speedily. An attempt to build a fire had 
failed completely, the wet matches refusing even to ignite, 
and as the gun and ammunition were also wet, there was 
no hope of obtaining even the raw flesh of a bird for sup- 
per, supposing they could have eaten it. 


" If we ouly had a fire," sobbed Charley, shivering, " I 
would n't mind being hungry." 

The poor little fellow's distress was presently further 
increased by dread of snakes. As Joe moved about mak- 
ing preparations for the night, he very nearly stepped on a 
large moccasin, which he succeeded in killing with a long 
stick. It was an unusually large one, probably measuring 
not less than eight inches around the middle, and doubtless 
the mother of a numerous progeny. 

Joe had often heard the deserters describe how they 
made shift for the night when caught out on the prairie or 
on a damp tussock in the flooded forests, and he now pro- 
ceeded to strip bark off the cypress-trees with the aid of 
Charley's hatchet. This was spread on the wet ground to 
lie upon, and a quantity of the Spanish moss was gathered 
to cover with. The latter was damp, — in fact, water- 
soaked ; but even so they would be warmer covered with 
it than if they lay exposed to the currents of raw air. 

These preparations were hardly complete when it began 
to grow dark. Joe thought they ought to remain awake 
and keep their bodies in something of motion all niglit, in 
order to prevent taking severe colds, but they were both 
too weary to persevere in such efforts. Sitting on the 
cypress bark and leaning their backs against a tree, the 
wet moss drawn up over their bodies, they soon subsided 
into quiet of limb and tongue, and after a time fell into 
troubled, dream-haunted slumber. 

" We '11 never get liome," sobbed Charley, wliile still 
they talked. " We '11 starve to death in this swamp." 

Joe made no reply at once. He was thinking how dif- 


fereut had been the experience of Eobinson Crusoe and 
other heroes of romance who had been wrecked on unknown 
islands or lost in desolate places. None of these, he 
thought, had ever suffered such continuing miseries of body 
and mind as were now his and Charley's portion. The 
hardships suffered by such as Eobinson Crusoe were indeed 
severe ; but there seemed to be always a wreck at hand 
with plenty of good things on board to eat, and the cast- 
aways could at least manage to sleep warm and dry. 

" I hope not, Charley," responded the elder boy, cutting 
off" this train of thought; "but if we do starve to death, it 
will be all for the best, as father would say." 

Joe was perhaps never more acutely miserable in his 
life than now, and had he been alone his soul could scarcely 
have risen above the trying surroundings ; but the con- 
sciousness that his little brother, one weaker than himself, 
was suffering as much, perhaps more, than he, roused in 
him a manly fortitude. 

" We '11 come out all right in a few^ days," he said, with 
forced cheerfulness. "But if we don't — well," he added, 
solemnly, " this world is not everything. If we have to 
leave this one, we go right into another one ; we can never 
really die. That 's what father says, and he knows. He 
said Socrates said, ' no evil can befall a good man, whether 
he be alive or dead.' That means, if we are honest and 
truthful and manly, and never want to harm anybody, 
we 're all right, whatever happens. But if we are mean 
and selfish and untruthful, and love to injure other people, 
all the riches in the world can't help us or make us men. 

" I once heard father say," Joe continued, " that every 


misfortune will in some way at last really be a blessing to 
the sufferer; and I thought how wonderful that was. 
Father said misfortune had made him a better man. And 
he told me once that it did n't matter so much what we 
were in the world, whether rich or poor, or what happened 
to us ; what did matter was whether we always thought 
and intended to be, and were, honorable and just. He 
said that was the great thing. If we do that, nothing can 
hurt us." 

" Even if the alligators or a panther was to eat us ? ' 
asked Charley. 

" Even then," was the answer with a shudder. 

" But, oh, Joe, it would hurt ! 

" Not as much as you think. Father said if I were to 
fall over a high precipice I would become unconscious 
before I struck the ground, and I think it would be just 
that way if a panther were to jump on you ; before he 
really began to eat you, you would n't know anything." 

Whether it was the result of this comforting philosophy 
or of sheer physical exhaustion was not clear ; but Charley 
presently became quiet and soon after fell asleep. 



JOE, however, remained awake a long while listening to 
a curious recurring sound out on the marsh, suggesting 
the harsh clank of two pieces of sheet-iron when precipi- 
tated the one against the other, which, as he learned after- 
ward, was made by sand-hill cranes when frightened and 
forced to shift their positions. The wakeful boy could not 
account for it, and it added no little to the misery of his 
situation. Another occasional sound troubled him less, — a 
hoarse bellowing which he supposed to come from the alli- 
gators. When at last he slept, it was only to dream of 
moccasins and alligators, and a nameless, shapeless monster 
out on the marsh with a metallic gong in its throat. 

As the first gray light of morning struggled through the 
mist still enveloping the marsh, Joe started up and looked 
about him. His attention was at once attracted to a white 
sand-hill crane fully five feet in height standing on a point 
of the island about fifty yards distant. 

Seizing his long stick, the boy crept toward the fowl 
behind the screen offered by the casina bushes. He hoped 
to knock it down, conjecturing that even the fishy flesh of 
a crane would be palatable to one half starved. But the 
wary bird spread its wings and flew away in the mist long 
before Joe was near enough to use his weapon. 


The boys both found themselves suffering with sore 
throat and their limbs felt cramped and numb ; but they 
were a good deal rested and their desire for food was less 
active than the night before. On the whole, they felt bet- 
ter and were eager to go forward and try to improve their 
condition. Joe remarked that if he could only see the 
island they had left the day before, he would "go right 
back " there ; but if they attempted it in the fog, a tliou- 
sand chances to one they would go astray, and he thought 
they had better take the risk of pushing forward. • 

So they struggled througli the "trembling" and breaking 
"earth" surrounding the island, got their log afloat, pushed 
out into the little stream, and swam with the current as on 
the day before. Although their exertions soon began to 
tell on them, weak for the want of food as they were, the 
boys pushed forward heroically during the greater part of 
the day, landing two or three times on the dreary and 
inhospitable " houses." 

One incident of importance occurring on tliat trying day 
may be mentioned. Toward noon, while swimming with 
one arm over the end of the log; Charley's feet and legs 
became entangled in the rushes; and, losing his hold, he 
was drawn beneath the water just as a faint cry escaped 
him. Joe looked back in time to see him go down, and, 
swimming to his aid, succeeded after considerable difficulty 
in extricating him, though not until he had swallowed sev- 
eral gulps of water and was pretty badly strangled. 

Meanwliile the log had floated with the current, and 
lodged among the " bonnets " about two hundred yards 
down stream, and this distance Joe was obliged to swim 


without artificial aid, supporting his helpless little brother. 
The last few yards was the sceue of a desperate struggle to 
keep above water until the log could be grasped. After 
this the boys were forced to land and rest on the nearest 
island, which fortunately was not far away. 

That night was spent, like the preceding, on a " house," 
and, if possible, was yet more uncomfortable. They M^ere 
agaiu unable to start a fire, and lay down as before on 
cypress bark, covered with the damp moss. The pangs of 
hunger were now extremely painful ; and though he made 
a brave effort, Joe found himself unable to take the same 
comfort in his father's philosophy as on the previous night, 
or to soothe poor little Charley with as much success. 
But he could at least express tenderness and sympathy, 
and he held his sobbing brother tightly in his arms for a 
long while. 

"Never mind, darling, never mind ! " he whispered again 
and again, — a demonstration of affection of which, perhaps, 
he would have been ashamed in happier times. 

The morning of the third day dawned bright and clear. 
Not a vestige of the fog was to be seen anywhere on the 
great marsh. Although they now felt weak and ill, their 
eyes ran water, and their heads throbbed with fever and 
headache, the bnys felt cheered by this change. In every 
direction but one they were unable to see anything but an 
expanse of marsh dotted with " houses ; " but in that one 
direction they clearly discerned, not more than two or 
three miles away, a wall of green pines, indicating the 
presence of a large island or mainland. With great de- 
light they noted also that the intervening marsh, though 


covered with water Iq places, was not of a character to 
necessitate swimming. 

Lifted high with hope, they started eagerly in the direc- 
tion of the green wall of pines, soon finding, however, that 
it was no child's play to cross this portion of the marsh, 
scantily covered with water though it might be. For it 
was in great part a treacherous quagmire, and the boys 
sometimes sank down suddenly in the mud to their arm- 
pits. Once Charley bogged up to his neck, and nothing 
but his long stick saved him. They had left their log 
l)ehind, but fortunately carried their long poles. 

It was near noon when they at length reached the high 
land where the pine-trees grew. After plunging into a 
neighboring pool of comparatively clear water in order to 
wash the mud and slime from their bodies and clothing, 
the boys climbed wearily up the slope and lay down in 
the warm sunshine, shading their faces with palmetto 

Here they rested two or three hours, then pushed for- 
ward wearily but determinedly across the island, if island 
it were. The vegetation was soon found to be unusually 
dense and wild. Even after gaining the crest of the slope, 
where, on the other islands a comparatively open pine ridge 
was usually found, they were confronted by the wild bram- 
bles of the jungle and immense thickets of scrub-oak and 

About an hour later, however, they emerged upon an 
open pine barren, where the underbrush consisted solely of 
the ubiquitous tyty, hemleaf, and fan-palmetto. It was 
here that a herd of cattle was discovered, and the boys 


were led thereby to believe that they were now at last 
clear of the vast Okefenokee. 

Great was their surprise, therefore, to see that as soon as 
their approach was observed, the herd took fright and tied 
wildly into the brush, only an immense bull standing his 
ground, facing the boys, head down, and pawing the earth 
in a threatening manner. 

" Why, they must be wild cattle !" Joe exclaimed. 

The words were scarcely uttered, when with an angry 
bellow the bull charged at full speed. 

" Eun, Charley ! Climb a tree ! " cried Joe, standing his 
ground for a few moments in order to draw the pursuit 
upon himself. 

Seeing that his brother was almost if not quite out of 
harm's way, Joe, too, turned and fled, the bull close at his 
heels. Dropping his gun, he leaped upward and caught 
the limb of a scrub-oak, and swung himself up out of reach 
just as the maddened animal dashed past with lowered 

Wheeling about, the great bull charged the tree, butting 
it with great fury. Although it was slender, and trembled 
and swayed at every shock, the young oak was tough, and 
withstood the attack, until baffled Taurus had exhausted 
his rage or his powers, and, retiring, trotted off into the 
brush on the track of the herd. 

As soon as it was safe to venture from their retreats, 
Joe called to Charley, who was in a neighboring tree, and 
they descended to the ground. 

It was now past four o'clock in the afternoon ; but they 
still pushed on, until Charley fell rather than sat upon the 


grass, declaring that he could go no further. The last 
mile had been for him literally a drag. All the nerves 
of his weakened frame were throbbing with fever and 

" I feel as if my head would burst," he said, staring 
stupidly about him. 

Joe, who felt little better, sat by him a while, and tried 
to encourage him. 

" You stay here and rest, Charley," said the elder boy at 
length, rising to his feet, " while I look around for a good 
place to camp. The matches are dry now," he added, 
"and I think we can have a fire to-night." 

An hour later, as the sun sank out of sight behind the 
woods, Joe, who liad chanced upon something like a trail, 
and followed it for a mile, stole guardedly through an oak 
thicket, and, halting on its borders, looked into an open 
space where a camp-fire burned. 

Everywhere in the little clearing there were evidences 
of a long sojourn. The stumps of several trees showed 
that the felling had been done months, perhaps a year or 
more, before. Curing hides hung against the trees ; tools 
and cooking utensils lay about on the grass. A pot swung 
over the fire from a tripod of three long sticks, and in it 
there evidently simmered a savory stew. No dog was 
aroused by Joe's approach ; and the sole human occupant 
of the clearing was a white man of middle size, with long 
iron-gray hair and beard, who sat on the ground near the 
fire, his back to tlie observer. 

What he was doing, Joe could not see, and did not wait 
to ascertain. After one swift glance, the boy quietly 


retraced his steps through the thicket, and ran backward 
over the trail with all speed toward the spot where he had 
left his little brother. 

" Oh, Charley ! " he cried, as soon as he was within 
speaking distance, " I 've found a camp, and there 's a man 
there cooking sui3per ! " 

But Charley only looked at his brother stupidly, and 
spoke of his head. Apparently the fever had entered his 
brain. A great fear fell upon Joe ; and although he was 
now scarcely able to drag one foot after the other, with 
sudden resolution he lifted the unresisting boy in his arms 
and staggered along the trail toward the stranger's camp, 

" — Whate'er ye are, 
That in this desert inaccessible, 
Under the shade of melancholy boughs, 
Lose and neglect the creeping hours of time," 

cried Orlando, as he entered the camp of the exiles in tlie 
forest of Arden, half carrying his aged footsore and faint- 
ing servitor. 

"If ever j'ou have looked on better days ; 
If ever been where bells have knoll'd to church ; 
If ever sat at any good man's feast ; 
If ever from your eyelids wiped a tear, 
And know what 't is to pity and be pitied ; 
Let gentleness my .strong enforcement be." 

Joe's appeal, as he staggered into the graybeard's camp, . 
still carrying Charley in his arms, was less stately and 
picturesque, but doubtless more effective to the startled 
ear which listened to it. 

" Help us — have pity on us," he panted, — " or my 
little brother will die ! " 


The boy sank down by the fire with his burden, in a 
state of absohite exhaustion, as the man with the gray 
beard started up in manifest affright, and drew back. 
Evidently he was somewhat deaf, and had not heard the 
sound of Joe's approaching footsteps. 

" Who 're you ? " he demanded suspiciously, looking 
around as if expecting some further invasion of the \m- 
vacy of his camp. " Whur — whur in the dickens did you 
come from ? " 

Joe did not answer; he lay passively on the ground 
beside his brother, keeping his eye fixed on the strange 
man. The question was repeated ; and as there was again 
no answer, the strange man drew nearer, bent over the two 
boys, and looked at them curiously. 

" Are you sick ? " he asked more gently. 

" Starving," answered Joe, hardly above a whisper. 

A wave of compassion swept over the man. He almost 
leaped to the fire ; and, quickly dipping something from tlie 
pot into a tin cup, he blew his breath upon it several 
times, in order to cool it, then ran back to the prostrate 
boys, and, kneeling beside them, offered the cup to Joe. 
But the boy gently pushed it away, and motioned toward 
his brother, indicating that Charley was in the greatest 
need and should be attended to first. 



HAVING partaken of the nourishment which was 
presently offered him again, Joe fell asleep, or 
fainted, — he could not afterwards tell which, — and there 
followed a blank. When he again opened his eyes and 
looked about him, he lay on a bed of moss in a curious 
circular room, in the centre of which there rose from floor 
to ceiling what was unquestionably the trunk of a living 

Raising himself on his arm and staring about him, no 
little alarmed to find that Charley was absent, Joe felt 
the whole room tremble slightly, and heard a sound as of 
some one ascending a ladder. In a few moments a small 
slide-door was pushed aside, and the strange man of the 
long gray hair and beard entered the room. A cheerful 
expression overspread his naturally kindly face, as he met 
the boy's eye. 

" You feel better now, I reckon ? " he said, seating him- 
self on a pile of moss near Joe's bed. 

" Where am I ? " asked the boy, uneasily, without answer 
to the inquiry. 

" In my house," was the reassuring reply. " You 've 
been pretty bad off, — sort o' wanderin' in yer mind. But 
you 're all right now." 


"■ Where 's my brother ? " 

" He 's outside. He got up and went down this mornin'. 
He 's all right. He jes' had a little fever from cold and 
exposure. You was the sickest of the two. You 've been 
on a harder strain, I reckon." 

" How long have I been here ? " 

" Three days. I thought at first you was in for a set-in 
spell o' typhoid ; but I reckon it was jes' a narvous fever, 
brought on by starvation and so nnich exposure. It was 
mighty high, though, for a while. Yer little brother 
Charley tole me how you-all *s been lost and a-wanderin' 
so long in the swamp. You boys has seen sights, I tell 

" Are we out of the swamp at last ? " asked Joe, eagerly. 

" No, not by a long jump. You 're on Blackjack, one 
o' the biggest islands." 

Joe heaved a heavy sigh of disappointment, then asked 
suddenly, " Are you a deserter ? " 

"Who, me?" ejaculated the man, starting perceptibly, 
and turning upon the boy an injured look. " You don 't 
know me," he continued impressively. " Mij name is 
George Washington Jefferson Jackson Smith, and I 'm a 

" Oh, I beg your pardon, " Joe hastened to say, showing 
great regret. " There are so many deserters in the swamp, 
you know, it 's the first thing I thought of But," he con- 
tinued, " where is your uniform, and why are you here ? " 

It seemed strange to the boy that this much-denomi- 
nated Mr. Smith should appear to be made uneasy by 
this question. 


" Well, you see/' was the stammering reply, "I — I 'm in 
disguise at present. You must n't tell it, but I — I 'm in 
ii-yer keepin' my eye on that cussed gang o' deserters, an' 
when the — the — right time comes I — I — aim to bring 
the soldiers in, and we '11 nab every last one of 'em." 

" Oh, will you ? I 'm so glad ! " cried Joe. 

Mr. George Washington Jefferson Jackson Smith now 
rose and retired, telling the boy he must lie quiet till the 
morrow. As it was now late in the afternoon, this would 
not be a very trying task, and Joe willingly acquiesced. 
Charley's voice was now heard as he climbed up the lad- 
der. In a few moments he entered the room with a smile 
on his face, whereat Joe was so overcome with joy that he 
seized his unresisting brother in his arms, and kissed him. 

" We are safe at last," he said, and lay back wearily and 
dreamily on the moss, taking little note of Charley's 
answering remark, — 

"That Mr. Smith is such a funny man. He talks so 
funny. And he looks just like a ram-goat, with that long 
beard growin' down in a point." 

An hour and a half later tears of gratitude filled Joe's 
eyes when his host brought in a delicious quail stew for 
his supper. 

" Then you won't want to keep us prisoners," said the 
boy as he ate, " and won't be afraid for us to leave the 
swamp, if you 're a soldier ? " 

" Who, me ? No, sir-ree ! " 

" And maybe you 'd be willing to show us the way 
out, — you 've been so good to us," continued Joe, with an 
eloquent look. 


" W-e-U, hardly," hesitated Mr. G. W. J. J. Smith ; " I 
could n't git off for that. You see I could n't spare the 
time ; I 've got to watch them deserters. But I kin put 
you on the traiL You kin go it by water to the Cow 
House in half a day. I kin loan you a bateau, — I 've got 
two, — and you kin leave it for me at the Cow House." 

" Oh, thank you ! But what is the ' Cow House ' ? " 

" It 's a big peninsula runnin' in the swamp. They call 
it the Cow House 'cause the cattle thieves use' to drive 
herds o' cattle in there and keep 'em till they could slip 
off with 'em to some market. That's whur these wild 
cattle on Blackjack come from. They run off from the 
Cow House into the marsh, and come over h-yer and run 

" And after we get to the Cow House ? " questioned 

" All you got to do is jes' to follow the trail 'bout ten 
miles through the piny woods, and you 're right at 
Trader's Hill." 

Joe's delight at this news was unbounded. He earn- 
estly thanked their new friend, and expressed the hope that 
some day he might be able to make a fitting return for so 
many kindnesses. 

"Maybe you kin; maybe you kin," was the answer. 

It was long before Joe fell asleep, his mind being so full 
of thoughts of his home, which now seemed so near. In 
the morning he rose early, feeling well and strong again, 
and followed Charley down the ladder to the camp-fire. 
He looked back with great interest at the house in the tree, 
and spoke of it with admiration to their host, who was 


cooking breakfast, and who smiled proudly as he remarked 
that the building had cost him many a day's hard labor. 
The house, which consisted of one large circular room, was 
built in a stout water-oak, the upper branches of which 
had been mostly cut away, the lower serving to support 
the framework of rough puncheon planks. It had been 
built in the tree, like the elevated loft of the deserters, as 
a safeguard against rattlesnakes and moccasins. 

" Everything looks as if you had been here a long time," 
said Joe, glancing about him. The house itself must have 
stood in the tree a year at the least. 

" Ye-yes," stammered Mr, Smith ; " but I hain't been 
li-yer so very long, though. You see ther' was a feller 
h-yer before me." 

Charley now called Joe's attention to two large fox 
squirrels, lying on the grass near the fire. 

" I shot 'em this mornin' 'fore you waked up," said their 
host, " The woods is chock full of 'em, " 

The boys ate a hearty breakfast, after which Joe felt so 
far restored that he eagerly asked if they could not start 
for home at once, and only reluctantly yielded when he 
was advised to rest until the following morning. 

The day was spent in talking with their new friend, in 
giving him some help toward the preparation of the meals, 
and in lying about on the grass and sleeping. Joe also 
cleaned his gun, dried his powder and caps, and otherwise 
prepared for the start on the following morning. Charley 
took great interest in a bow, belonging to and manu- 
factured by their host, and considered himself highly 
honored on being allowed to shoot away two or three 



arrows, which latter he diligently searched for and returned 
to their owner. Both bow and arrows were made of ash, 
the latter being tipped with sharpened bits of steel. The 
bow-string was made from the tough gut of the wild-cat. 

" Come go with me now, if you want to see some fun," 
said Mr. Smith, at sundown. 

He then took bow and arrows, and led the boys about a 
quarter of a mile away in the woods, telling them he would 
show them how partridges roosted at night. When the 
place was reached, twilight had fallen ; but the boys dis- 
tinctly saw, when pointed out, several birds squatting on a 
limb of a tree about thirty feet distant. 

" Watch me drop 'em," said their host ; and, lifting his 
bow, he bent it almost double, the string twanged, and the 
arrow sped on its way. 

One of the birds at once disappeared from view ; the 
others looked startled, lifting and turning their heads from 
side to side, as if striving in vain to pierce the gathering 
gloom. Four times the bowman sent an arrow flying, then 
ran forward himself, and, after a short delay, returned with 
four birds, each with its head cut .off clean. ^ 

"Well, you are a fine shot!" cried Joe, with great ad- 

"You see, I shoots 'em in the head to keep from spilin' 
the meat," was the explanation, with a proud smile. 

When they had returned to the light of the camp-fire, 
and their friend was preparing to open the birds, he dis- 
covered a folded paper beneath the wing of one of them 
and called Joe's attention to it. 

1 An occurrence actually witnessed in the Okefenokee. 


" Well, well ! " exclaimed the boy, having eagerly seized 
the folded paper and opened it, " that 's the very partridge 
we tried to send a letter to father by. Just think of it ! " 
He then described the circumstances of sending the letter. 

" How long ago was that ? " 

'• About two wrecks." 

" Hit 's a wonder that partridge ain't got shed of it long 
before this," remarked their host. " Birds has got more 
sense 'n you give 'em credit for." 

" Asa said that partridge would never leave the swamp," 
put in Charley. 

Joe handed the letter to their friend, intimating that he 
might read it if he cared to take the trouble. The name- 
sake of the fathers of the republic seemed curiously em- 
barrassed, and, after holding the letter in his hand for a few 
moments, returned it, saying, " You better read it while I 
'tend to these birds ; " and Joe did as was recommended. 

As they sat about the fire after supper, the subject of 
tlie war came up, and their host, as Joe declared after- 
ward, literally " spread himself," becoming very communi- 
cative in regard to his own personal experiences. He 
showed an intense interest in the subject, and expressed 
unqualified disapproval of the conduct of the war from the 

" Yes, things is goin' wrong," he said, in rejoinder to a 
regretful remark from Joe. " The truth is," continued Mr. 
Smith, lifting his index finger into the air in order to em- 
phasize his words, — " the truth is, the war ain't been run 
right from the start. It never is been run to suit me. As 
I says to Gen'l Johnson after the first battle of Manassas, 


s' I, ' General, it want done riglit,' s' I. ' To be shore, it 
was a victory,' s' I ; ' bat it mout 'a' been a long-sight more. 
If you 'd only 'a' followed 'em up when they run, you mout 
'a' tuck Washington,' s' I. S' 'e, 'George, you're right, as 
you always is,' s' 'e, ' and I wish mightily you 'd 'a' been 
on hand to suggest it.' " 

" Why — why, what position did you hold ? " gasped 
Joe, amazed that any private, as he supposed his host to 
have been, would have dared to speak thus to a general. 

" Who, me ? OIi, I was on the general's staff in them 
days. But unluckily he sont me off that time, and I 
was n't on hand to tell him what to do." 

For a moment Joe wondered how an uneducated and 
ungrammatical man, such as he saw his host to be, could 
have found a place on the staff of a leading general ; but 
the boy was so elated at the thought of being in the soci- 
ety of so great a man and soldier that he did not pause for 
sober reflection. 

" Hit was jes' the same thing at the battle o' Gettys- 
burg," continued this great soldier, with an air of disgust. 
" The thing want worked right from the start, and I tole 
Gen'l Lee so myself. I says, s' I, ' General, this won't do 
— this won't begin to do,' s' I. And the general says, s' 'e, 
' George, I done my best,' s' 'e. ' I 'm mighty sorry you 
want h-yer to holp us out,' s' 'e. ' If I heel 'a' been h-yer,' 
s' I, ' that battle would 'a' ended diffunt,' s' I, for I was rale 
mad. ' Mebby so,' says 'e, lookin' mighty down in the 

" And you are as well acquainted with General Lee as 
that ! " exclaimed Joe, lost in wonder. 


" Who, me ? I knowed him like a brother. I knowed 
'em all. Ther' waut a general in the army but what was 
glad to git my advice. Even the rank and file o' the sol- 
diers knowed me by sight, and when they seen me makin' 
for the general's quarters, they 'd fling up ther' hats and 
holler, ' Hurrah for George Washington Jefterson Jackson 
Smith ! Make way for George Washington Jefferson 
Jackson Smith ! He 's goin' to take counsel with the gen- 
eral. Make way there I ' " 

" But — but," stammered Joe, still credulous, but strug- 
gling in a maze of contradictions, " but why did you come 
away if they needed your advice ? " 

" I was mad, for one thing," was the glib answer. " I was 
plum' put out by the way things was goin', and then, you 
know, the deserters had to be looked after. The army ain't 
got no men to lose nowadays. I 'm (detailed to look after 
these cussed deserters in this swamp." 

" Oh, yes, I see," ejaculated Joe, evidently rescued from 
further troubling doubt. 

" You know, I was named after George Washington and 
Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson," pursued the great 
soldier, proudly ; " and them men in the army, the generals 
and the rest o' 'em, use' to say I had the heads o' all three 
on my one pair o' shoulders." 

So their garrulous host went on spinning yarns until a 
late hour. Finally, Charley, who had fallen asleep, was 
roused, and then all three retired to their beds of moss in the 
tree-house, Joe to dream of bloody battles, famous generals, 
and the society of great men generally. The two boys 
climbed up first; and as they lay down on the moss, and 


the ladder was heard to tremble beneath the weight of their 
host, Charley irreverently whispered to his brother, — 
" He makes me think of a ram-goat all the time." 
" Hush ! you must n't be so disrespectful," said Joe, 
sternly resenting such levity as an insult to the majesty of 
that great soldier, George Washington Jefferson Jackson 



THE boys were well pleased the next morning when 
their distinguished friend proposed to accompany 
them a part of the way to the Cow House. 

" I want a bait o' fish," he told them at breakfast ; " and 
I think I'll jes' git in t'other bateau and go with you-all 
as far as the lake." 

All their preparations were complete at an early hour, 
and a start was made. The boys were led about a mile 
through the woods to a point of the island opposite that on 
which they had landed. Here two small bateaux were 
found, and the party embarked on the flooded marsh, 
following a distinctly marked boat-trail through the water- 
mosses and grasses. 

Two hours later, the boats entered a broad circular ex- 
panse of open water, fully a mile across, and passed what 
might, without great inaccuracy, be termed a shoal of alli- 
gators, for the heads of the amphibian monsters could 
scarcely be counted. They showed neither fear of the 
boats nor a desire to attack them, but the great soldier 
prudently made a detour in order to avoid them. 

" Soon 's we git past this 'gator-hole," he said, " I '11 show 
you boys how to ketch a trout." 


Once well out into the lake, he allowed his boat to drift, 
and began to play a " spoon " attached by a three-foot line 
to the end of his rod. In the course of an hour he had not 
less than a dozen " rises," and landed safely in the boat 
four unusually fine black bass, the largest weigliing at least 
eight pounds. 

"Take that along for yer dinner," said the soldier-fisher- 
man, pitching one of them into Joe's boat. 

Arrived at the opposite end of the lake, he pointed out a 
boat-trail leading away through the sedge and over the 
water mosses as before, informing the boys that it would 
take them " right straight to the Cow House." 

" You ought to git there by two o'clock," he added. 
" Well, good-by, boys ; take care yerself." 

"You have been very kind to us," said Joe, gratefully, as 
the boats separated, " and I hope we can return it some 

" Well, who knows but what you kin ? You jes' tell 
yo' pa all about it, and maybe I '11 call on him for a favor 
one these times. Don't fergit to tell liim ! " shouted Mr. 
Smith; and after this speech, Mdiich struck Joe as being 
unworthy the man who uttered it, the great soldier waved 
liis uplifted paddle in farewell, and was gone. 

The trail was found to be quite distinct all the way, and 
it was not so difficult to paddle and pole the bateau over 
it but that they could make fairly rapid headway and 
might have reached the peninsula at the calculated time. 
But Joe now felt so sure of reaching home early the ne.xt 
day at the latest tliat he allowed himself to be distracted 
and delayed by the game encountered along the route. 


Having been unable to shoot his gun for four or five days, the 
temptation to indulge in his favorite sport was more than 
he could now resist. 

He fired a number of shots at the ducks and other wild 
fowl rising from the marsh at their approach. Once two 
wild geese flew over their boat well within range, and after 
firing, Joe was made happy by seeing one of them plunge, 
wheel back and forth, and finally fall into the sedge, some 
two hundred yards to the right of their course. The boy 
had never shot a wild-goose before and considered it a 
great prize. 

Charley wanted to push on, but Joe would not consent to 
leave the game behind. Much time was therefore wasted 
in running the boat out of the beaten track, and in poling 
it back and forth through the sedge in search of the goose. 
Several times they ran aground and found great diffi- 
culty in extricating themselves. Indeed, the boy was finally 
obliged to take off his clothes and search for the game 
on foot, and after securing it, drag the boat back to the 

Nearly two hours were lost in this way, and when the 
boys finally landed on the Cow House peninsula, which 
seemed in all respects similar to the islands they had visited, 
it was past four o'clock in the afternoon. By this time 
they were ravenously hungry, and were obliged to consume 
another hour in building a fire and cooking something to eat. 
So it came about that when night overtook them they 
were still in the heart of the Cow House. 

They had selected a suitable spot for a camp, and were 
building a fire, when the sound of hurrying footsteps caused 


both boys to start up and look about them. A moiueut 
later a man leaped into the circle of firelight, and they 
recognized the negro Asa. 

" Well, well ! Where on earth did you come from ? " 
cried Joe, delighted, and both boys began to crowd the 
smiling negro with questions. 

" I been a-watchin' you boys a good while," said Asa, 
laughing ; " I did u' know who you was till I seen Charley's 
face over de fire, den I come a-jumpin'. So yuh we all is 
togedder agin." 

" And you got away from the deserters that day, after 
all ? " asked Joe. 

" And did you swim across the big prairie like we did ? " 
asked Charley. 

" Who, me ? I come thoo de woods. I des got away 
las' night." 

Asa's story was, in substance, that after marching him 
back to the spot where the dog had been killed, the 
deserters scattered, and lost much time in searching for 
the trail supposed to have been taken by the two boys. 
Meanwhile Asa was sent on to camp under the guard of Bud 
Jones, who left the recapture of the boys to the others. 
Late in the day the rest returned to the island crestfallen 
and in great ill-humor. 

The negro, after serving as the butt of much violent 
language and having been threatened with dreadful punish- 
ment if he attempted to escape again, was liberated, and 
allowed to go about his usual employment. In the course 
of the afternoon and evening, he noted that, while the 
successful escape of the two boys seemed to cause the other 


men great annoyance aud dread, Bubber Hardy looked 
more cheerful than he had done since he first showed that 
he was " hurted " in his mind, after listening to Joe's 
memorable speech. Events then took their usual course 
in the deserters' camp, and a week passed. 

" Yistiddy mornin'," continued Asa, " Mr. Jackson and 
four or five de others started off on a trip to meet dey wives 
souie'rs on de edge o' de swamp, an' I yeared some o' em 
say dey did n't calculate to git back for two or tree days. 
Well, las' night, wut you reckon, my boss an' de others 
went to bed in de loft an' forgot to fasten me up in de 
pen, an' soon 's I knowed dey was all sleep good, I come 
a-kitiu', an' yuh I is." 

With some assistance, mostly in the form of excited inter- 
jections, from Charley, Joe told the story of tlieir adven- 
tures since the separation from Asa. A full understanding 
arrived at, and the proposition made that the three start 
for Trader's Hill at dawn, Asa took up the preparation for 
supper where the boys had left off, and they were soon 
satisfying their hunger with broiled fish and fowl. 

Their meal was not quite finished when the sound of 
hurrying feet arrested their attention. Starting up, they 
promptly discerned the forms of six men closing in upon 
their camp-fire from almost as many different quarters. 
Evidently they were to be captured, and every avenue of 
escape had been designedly cut off. 

" Hit 's de 'zerters," whispered Asa, — " Mr. Jackson an' 
his crowd. No use to try to run." 

They were indeed caught, and it would be useless to 
resist. In a few moments the deserters were upon them, 


and, seizing the two boys aud the uegro, they promptly 
tied their hands. 

" So h-yer you is, is you ? " cried Sweet Jackson, in scorn 
and triumph. " Thought you 'd git clean out o' the swamp 
by to-morrow, did you ? Well, we '11 see about that. Bub- 
ber Hardy is willin' to let you boys go, but the balance of 
us ain't sich natural-born fools. As for this cussed nigger, 
1 don't want to lame him so he can't walk, but jes' wait 
tell we git him back on the island. We 'II make him see 
sights, Bubber Hardy or no Bubber Hardy." 

Asa submitted without a murmur, and Joe was for the 
time so dazed by surprise and chagrin that he could not 
speak. But Charley began forthwith to cry, and sobbed 
piteously for half an hour. 

" I '11 make you sorry for this one of these days," Joe 
burst out at last, hot indiguant tears starting in his eyes. 

" You'd better keep a still tongue in your head," rejoined 
Sweet Jackson, with anger. " That 's all I 've got to say to 
you, Mr. Smarty." 

Their belongings having been picked up, the prisoners 
were now led away. A tramp of half a mile brought them 
into the neighborhood of another camp-fire about which 
several forms were moving. At a nearer view these proved 
to be women, four in number. 

" I reckon dem 's dey wives dey come out yuh to meet," 
whispered Asa to Joe. 

" You caught 'era ? " called out one of the women, in a 
shrill, high voice, as the party approached. 

" Yere," was the answer. 

It was learned later that one of the deserters, starting 


out from the camp with his guu, had discovered the pris- 
oners, and returning, gave the alarm. 

" Let me git a look at them boys," said the same woman, 
as the prisoners were led within the light radiating from 
the fire. 

She was dressed in a coarse homespun frock and sun- 
bonnet, and her sallow face was far from handsome ; but 
she had a bright black intelligent eye, and she gazed at 
Joe and Charley with great interest, and in a not un- 
friendly way. 

" Oh, Sweet, why can't you turn 'em loose and let 'em 
go ? " she asked, after staring hard for a few moments. 
" I know they 're powerful homesick ; I 'm sorry for 'em, — 
they're sich putty-lookin' boys." 

" They kin make a fool o' Bubber Hardy, but they can't 
make a fool o' me," was the only answer. 

" But what harm kin two little hoys do you if you do 
turn 'em loose ? " 

" They kin tell on us an' git us arrested, — that 's what 
harm they kin do," answered Bud Jones, dryly. 

" You jes' better 'tend to yo' own business, Nancy," said 
Jackson, gruffly, and the discussion stopped there. 

Nancy Jackson — for it was at once clear to the prisoners 
that she was Sweet's wife — appeared to be the leading 
spirit among the women. The other three seemed to have 
much to say to their several lords, with whom they sat 
apart on the grass, but Mrs. Jackson was the only one who 
raised her voice in the hearing of the whole camp. 

They were all of the illiterate Cracker class, like their hus- 
bands, but were women of no little determination, or they 


would never have ventured into the jaws of the Okefenokee, 
so to speak, ten or twelve miles from their homes, attended 
only by two half-grown boys. The object of their expedi- 
tion was to meet and spend a couple of days with their 
husbands, and bring them a small supply of salt, — an 
article now very scarce in this corner of the Confederacy, as 
was indeed almost every other article under the sun. 



AFTER eating heartily of the supper which the women 
had been preparing for them, the six deserters 
lighted their pipes ; and for about two hours there was 
much animated conversation around the camp-fire, the wife 
of Sweet Jackson taking a leading part. 

Lying passively on the grass beside Asa and Charley, 
his hands still bound, Joe gradually became intensely 
interested in what this woman was saying. 

" I tell you M'hat, people is seein' sights these days," said 
she. " Let 'lone salt, some of 'em ain't got a roof to git 
under. The backwoods is full o' refugees from Savannah 
and Brunswick and St. Mary's and everywhur else. I see 
'em go by on the road most eve'y day in wagins and ox 
c-yarts and anything they kin git. I 've housed loads of 
'em sence they been comin', bat I has to turn a heap of 
'em away. 

" One day two or tliree weeks back, a powerful stuck-up 
set come 'long — or their nigger gal was stuck-up for 'em, 
they was meek enough theyselves. They come in a ox 
c-yart, — a white-headed ole gentleman and liis wife and 
two young ladies and the nigger gal. I tole 'em they 
could stop over night, but the three ladies would have to 


go in one room, and the ole man would have to sleep in 
the corn-crib ; as for the nigger gal, I could n't say what 
I could do with her, but I 'lowed to tix her somehow. 

" ' Very well, madam,' says the ole man, kind o' proud 
and stately ; ' there is no choice but to stop. You are very 
kind, and I will gladly pay your demands.' 

" So they lit and come in, and while the ole man and 
his lady sot on the piyaza, and the two young ladies walked 
up and down in the yard, that nigger wench slipped in to 
look at the room. Would you believe it ? She stood up thar 
in my comi'p'ny room and looked round and turned up her 
nose ! Then she lent over and felt of the bed and stuck 
her nose down to smell of my colored sheets, and says she, 
' Hump ! missis can't sleep in dis bed ! ' Well, sir, I was 
that mad, I grabbed the broom-stick and run her out on 
the piyaza. 

" And the ole man and his lady got up and scolded that 
gal good, and they says to me, ' You must overlook it, 
madam ; ' and then they went in and took a look at the 
room theyselves, and smiled at me kind o' sad like, and 
they says, ' This will do very well, madam, and we are 
greatly obliged to you.' But, all the §ame, them three 
ladies did n't sleep in that bed, — they slept on it. I went 
in and took a look next mornin' when they come out to git 
somethin' to eat, and I seen how they worked it. They 
did n't nair one of 'em git between them sheets ; they jes' 
spread over the bed a lot o' shawls and things they had in 
that c-yart, and laid down on top of 'em. I never seen 
sich a stuck-up set. 

" But I was goin' to tell you 'bout the gibberish them 


two young ladies talked wlieu they was walkiu' up aud 
down iu that yard. 1 weut out to the well to git a bucket 
o' water, and they passed closte and I heanl 'em, and, sir, I 
could n't understand a single, solitary word ! Aud M'hen I 
fetched in the water I says to the ole lady, s' I , ' What sort 
o' gibberish is them two gals a-talkin' out thar in that 
yard ? I ain't never hearn the like.' And she sort o' 
smiles, and she says, ' I suppose my daughter is speakin' 
French with her governess, as she ginally does when they 're 
by theyselves.' Thass jes' what she said. I 's had to deal 
with a heap o' partic'lar travellers," concluded Xancy 
Jackson, ' but this was the particlares' crowd yit." 

The present great scarcity of the necessaries of life, par- 
ticularly of salt, and the discussion of the subject among 
the six deserters, gave occasion for another story from the 
voluble and observant Nancy. 

" Why, you can't git none for love nor money these 
days," she declared. " That salt we brought 3'istiddy was 
give to us by ole Mr. Eichard Macy thar in Trader's Hill. 
He 's been diggin' up the earth in his smoke-houses and 
gittin' the salt out — 'extractin" it, he says. I dunner 
how he does it, but he does it. Hit 's mighty black and 
dirty, but hit's salt, and ever'body is glad to git it. He 
don't sell it off for a big price, like some people would, but 
he gives it away. He says that salt, cep 'n a little for him- 
self, is for the wives and widows of the soldiers. Ole man 
Macy is powerful sot fernent the deserters — turrible down 
on 'em, shore 'nough — but he's a mighty good man. 

" I was thar to his place with Liza Wilkinson that time 
she heard John was killed, and, sir, you ought to 'a' heard 



him talk ! We went to git salt, and found him a-readin' 
out o' the paper the names o' the killed in the last 
battle, and when he come to John Wilkinson's name, Liza 
jes' turned white ez tallow and sot thar dumb. Hit was 
rale pitiful. And ole man Macy, he says, ' Po* child ! The 
Lord help you ! ' An' dreckly he got started off like a 
preacher, and got to praisiu' up the soldiers that fell in 
battle, and to runnin' down deserters plum' turrible — well, 
sir, hit jes' gimme the cole chills ; and to tell you the truth. 
Sweet, I wished I could see you in the army 'long 'side o' 
John Wilkinson, even if they did kill you." 

"You ijit!" was Jackson's angry interjection. 

" Atter while," Nancy continued, " Liza got up and walked 
out ; and when I started home, I found her a-lyin' down in 
the wire-grass 'side the road, and she laid thar so still I 
thought for a minute she was dead. I went to her, and I 
says, ' Git up, Liza, an' less go home ; hit 's late.* And 
then she got up an' sot on a log, and I tried to git her to 
take a dip o' snuff to brace her up ; but she would n't, and 
she looked round at me, and she says, ' Thank God, he want 
no deserter. I ain't got nothin' to live for now,' she says, 
' but I 'm better off 'n some folks. I 'd ruther be the widow 
of a soldier than the wife of a deserter,' says she, and then 
she got up and walked on ez proud ez you please. 

" If she had 'a' hit me in the head with a hatchet," declared 
Nancy Jackson, passionately, tears starting in her eyes, " she 
could n't 'a' Imrt me worse. I don't wisli you no harm. 
Sweet; but God knows I ain't proud o' bein' the wife of a 
deserter, and I went home that night and had a big cry." 

" I did n't know you was sich a fool," was the brutal 


rejoinder of Jacksou, who had started to his feet and 
seemed ill at ease. 

" Liza 's got consumption," concluded Nancy, sadly pen- 
sive, " and she won't live long uohow." 

" And when slie dies, she '11 go to heaven, where her 
brave liusbaud is," burst out Joe, beside himself, his voice 
shaken with emotion. 

" None o' yer rantin' now ! " exclaimed Jackson, 

tiercely, giving the prostrate boy a kick. 

" You coward ! you beast ! " cried Joe, starting to his feet. 

Jackson leaped toward the boy with uplifted arm, but 
his wife ran between them and stopped him. 

" You sha'n't tech him ! " she declared. — " less 'n you 
knock me down, too. Ain't desertiii' the army enougli, 
'thout jumpin' on a half-grown boy whose hands is tied ? " 
she demanded in great scorn. 

Sweet Jackson glared at his rebellious wife in a threat- 
ening manner, but hesitated, and after a moment turned 
on his heel. He felt ashamed, not of his intended assault 
on the boy, but of having thus been balked by a woman, and 
that woman his wife, in the presence of his associates ; and 
he gave vent to his rage in the repetition of a number of his 
favorite oaths. 

" Lay down and hush now," said Mrs. Jackson, urgently, 
to Joe. " You ought to know better than to aggervate him." 

The four deserters whose wives were present had each 
built a " brush-tent" for his own accommodation, and it was 
in these that the women spent the night in the company 
of their husbands. The other two deserters, and the two 
half-grown boys who had accompanied the women, lay down 


uuder the open sky around the fire. Here the prisoners 
also passed the night, the latter not only with their hands 
still bound, hut their feet also, — an additional precaution 
which was insisted on by Jackson before he retired into 
his brush-tent. Asa slept as soundly as usual ; but the two 
boys, excited and augered by this fresh indignity, lay awake 
and talked in low tones during the greater part of the night. 

The morning light found the prisoners stiff and cold, hut, 
in the case at least of the two youngsters, with spirits still 
undaunted. When the bonds holding their feet together 
were loosed, the boys and the negro could scarcely stand. 

The cainp was astir at an early liour, and as soon as 
breakfast had been despatched, the four women took leave 
of their husbands, and, attended by the two half-grown 
lads, departed. The six deserters and their prisoners 
moved away in the opposite direction. 

" Good-by, Mrs. Jackson I I '11 never forget you ! " 
called out Joe, as the two parties were separating, 

" Good-by, Joe, " said tlie deserter's wife, the soul of 
kindliness and pity in her voice and looks. " Never you 
mind, honey. Don't you fret. You two boys '11 git home 
safe before long. This sort o' thing can't last always." 

"Shet up!" ordered Jackson, but neither his wife nor 
the prisoners took any notice of him. 

" Won't you please send word to papa and tell him where 
we are ? " pleaded Charley. 

" N"o ; she won't do no sich of a thing ! " roared Jackson, 
ordering his wife to depart and the prisoners to go forward. 

Nancy Jackson looked doubtful, liesitating, pained, as 
she listened to the little boy's pathetic entreaty. Without 


answering, she turned and walked on, the same expression 
on her face. The three other women and the two halt- 
grown lads were some distance ahead ; but she seemed in 
no hurry to overtake them, and paused several times to 
look back. As she did so, the boys could see that there 
were tears in her eyes. 

" She deserved a better husband," Joe remarked to his 
little brother, as they turned to follow their captors. 

The boys were told nothing, but well knew that they 
were now to be taken back to Deserters' Island. Sweet 
Jackson marched ahead, followed by two of the men ; then 
came the prisoners, followed by Jones and the two remain- 
ing deserters, all advancing ia single file. The prisoners' 
hands were still bound, and the cruel leader of the party 
swore that he would not allow them to be untied until the 
island was readied. 

Necessarily this caused the march through the jungle to 
be much more difficult and painful for them than it other- 
wise would have been. Sometimes, when they stumbled 
and fell, or when they pushed through dense and thorny 
thickets, being unable to protect themselves with their 
arms and hands, they received many painful scratches and 
blows on the face and head. This was hard to bear, and 
ere long both Asa and Charley begged that their bonds 
might be loosed. 

Joe made no such request ; but at length, toward noon, as 
they entered a space of open pine barrens, after passing 
through a dense jungle full of thorny brambles, he rebelled. 

" I won't go another step unless you untie my hands ! " 
he cried, throwing himself down on tlie grass. The boy's 


face was bleeding in several places from scratches just 

" Jes' let me git a hold o' him ! " cried Jackson, turning 
back when he saw what had occurred, and cutting a long 
stout oak switch. 

" My hands are tied, and I know you are devil enough 
to beat me to death," said Joe, with blazing eyes and un- 
flinching calm, " but I won't budge ! " 

" Now look-a h-yer, Sweet Jackson, this is gwine a little 
too fur," interposed Bud Jones. " In time of war some of 
us has to do despe'rte things, but ther' ain't notliin' to 
jestify you in beatin' that boy." 

" 'Tend to yer own business ! " cried Jackson. •' He 's 
got to mind me or take a whippin'." 

"What if you can't make him ? I kin tell by his looks 
he don't aim to budge, beat him ez much ez yer will. 
He 's got the spunk of two or three men like some I know. 
Besides tliat, he 's got right on his side. Hit ain't right 
and hit ain't reason to make him go thoo these bushes 
with his hands tied." 

" No, hit ain't," chimed in th-e other men. 

" No sense in it nohow," continued Jones, encouraged 
by the approval of the Qthers. " How in the dickens kin 
he git away ? " 

" I depend I know what I 'm a-doin'," rejoined Jackson, 
angrily. He seemed determined not to yield, and gave 
utterance to many outrageous oaths before he finally 
cooled down enough to be willing to a compromise. 

" Well," he said at last, " you kin untie the boys, but 
the nigger 's got to stay tied." 


" It hurts Asa just as much as it hurts us," declared 
Joe, with the same unflinching manner, " and unless you 
untie him too, I won't move — I don't care what you 
do ! " 

" Oh, Mas' Joe ! " exclaimed Asa, who had heard every- 
thing, and who gazed at his champion with an expression 
of countenance in which wonder and gratitude struggled 
on equal terms. 

This was the occasion of a fresh squabble and further 
conflict of opinion, emphasized by strong oaths ; but in 
the end the determined boy had his way. 

The party reached the deserters' island camp at sun- 
down, and great was the surprise and sensation caused by 
their arrival. Tlie half-witted Billy was more than well 
pleased at the return of the two boys, capering around 
them and shouting in the expression of his delight. But 
Bubber Hardy became very angry when he learned that 
Joe and Charley had been captured within ten miles of 
their home and brought back to the island prison, and he 
did not hesitate to speak his mind. It was as nmch as 
the other men could do to prevent a hand-to-hand en- 
counter between him and the furious Jackson. Even 
after the boys had been given some supper, and had 
climbed into the familiar loft and lain down to sleep, they 
heard the two men still quarrelling over the camp-fire. 

" Got to be a deviation somewhere," muttered Asa, as 
lie was shut up for the night. " Ez Mis' Jackson tole de 
boys, dis sort o' bizness can't last forever." 



AT breakfast the next morning Joe observed that 
neither Bubber Hardy nor Sweet Jackson seemed 
disposed to talk. The former looked depressed, the latter 
sullen ; and such conversation as there was had no reference 
to either, or their recent and violent quarrel. The two 
leading and conflicting spirits of the camp appeared to 
liave agreed on a truce, or to be biding their time. The 
boy may be pardoned for hoping that truce there was 
none, since this would almost inevitably result in tlie 
continued detention of the prisoners. 

Joe also noted that Lofton's wound was fast healing, 
but thought it likely that he would wear to his grave an 
ugly scar all across the left side of his forehead and his 
left cheek. The covert, unfriendly glances whicli he now 
and tlien directed toward the sullen Jackson were proof 
to the observant lad that he meditated revenge. 

After breakfast Hardy called Joe aside and asked for 
an account of his and Charley's wanderings since the 
night of their escape from the island. This the boy very 
willingly gave, being desirous to please the only friend — 
barring Asa — whom he and his brother could rely on 
wliile in their present position. He, however, spoke 
guardedly of their experiences on Blackjack Island, being 


unwilling to let slip the remotest hint of the plans of the 
distinguished man residing there. The boy was too astute 
not to have begun long ere this to suspect that his much- 
named friend had exaggerated his own importance ; but he 
still felt confident that the solitary denizen of Blackjack 
was, as claimed, a soldier, and that he had designs on the 
deserters. So he merely stated the fact that they had 
found a hunter on that island who had been very kind to 

" Oh, you run up on George Smith, did you ? " asked 
Bubber, smiling. 

" Why, do i/oic know Mr. George Washington Jefferson 
Jackson Smith ? " asked Joe, amazed. 

" Yes, I know him. I reckon he told you a long string 
o' lies, did n't he ? That 's like him. He 's the biggest 
liar, the biggest coward, and the cussedest fool I ever laid 
eyes on. He was the first deserter to locate in this h-yer 
swamp, and he 's been in h-yer gwine on three year." 

"What!" gasped Joe, his faith in mankind quaking. 
" Then he is not the great soldier and counsellor, the friend 
of General Lee ? " 

" He never laid eyes on General Lee. That piny- 
woods Cracker the counsellor of General Lee ! He want 
nothin' but a common foot soldier, and he want that long. 
He deserted after the first battle he was ever in." 

" Well, he fooled mc ! " exclaimed Joe, greatly crest- 
fallen, and almost ashamed of himself. " But I thought 
there must be something wrong about that man," the boy 
declared, after a moment. 

" I thought he looked like a ram-goat," said Charley, who 


had approached and overheard the greater part of what had 
been said. 

" He told me ho was detailed to look after the deserters 
iu tliis swamp," continued Joe. 

" Oh, he did, did he ? " laughed Bubher. " Sometimes I 
think George Smith's brains must be half addled when he 
gits started on a yarn. He a great soldier ! Why, he turned 
and run the very first time he was under fire. They tell 
me he went runnin' and hollerin', ' Oh, I wish I was a baby ! 
I wish I was a gal baby ! ' " 

" At least he has a kind heart," Joe was generous enough 
to say, after having laughed until the tears ran down his 

It so happened that the deserters scattered widely that 
afternoon, and the camp was almost deserted. For some 
time no one seemed to be left on guard but Sweet Jackson, 
who lay upon the grass and dozed. Joe watched this man, 
their worst enemy, narrowly, thoughts of an attempted 
escape in his mind, as he stood cleaning his gun not far 
away. Asa worked among his pots and pans at the fire, 
talking with Charley. The hapless Billy, after being absent 
for an hour, had shown liimself again, and now squatted in 
the grass just beyond the borders of tlie clearing. 

It was about four o' clock when Sweet roused up and 
stood erect, calling roughly for some water. 

" De ain't none fresh ; lemme go git you some fresh," 
said Asa, hastily, taking up the tin bucket as he spoke. 

" Never mind ; go on with your work," said Sweet, yawn- 
ing. " I '11 send Billy. Billy is my nigger. Billy ! Oh, 
Billy!" he called. 


But Billy made no answer. Asa indicated the where- 
abouts of the boy, and Sweet took a few steps forward. 

" You Billy ! Why don't you answer me ? " he called 

But the boy seemed to be absorbed in contemplating 
some object on the ground in front of him, and gave no 
sign of hearing. 

" I depend I '11 everlas'nly make him hear me ! " cried 
Sweet, enraged, breaking a long stout switch and stripping 
off the leaves. 

The absorbed Billy did not even turn his head when the 
sound of hurried footsteps in the grass fell on his ear. Not 
until the switch descended heavily on his back, did he start 
and look up with the air of one rudely awakened from a 

" I 'II I'arn you to fool with me ! " cried the infuriated 
Sweet, raining down blows, beneath which the boy seemed 
to stagger as he attempted to rise. But once upon his feet, 
he leaped forward beyond reacli, and faced his foe, a strange 
glow in his eyes. 

Sweet sprang after him with uplifted switch, when he 
suddenly became aware that he had trodden upon some soft 
living body, which yielded beneath his w^eight and struggled 
in a peculiar, writhing way. At the same instant he heard 
a harsh rattling sound, and, as bis glance swept downward,- 
he saw that he stood upon a rattlesnake. 

Had he kept his position, he might have escaped un- 
harmed, for his feet were on its body near the neck. The 
reptile, probably sharing Billy's strange trance, had been, 
like him, taken unawares. But Sweet in his sudden terror 


leaped upward and forward. As he moved, the rattler 
struck him on the right leg just above the ankle. The 
effect of the man's leap was only to fasten securely in 
his flesh the snake's hooked fangs. Uttering wild cries, 
the unfortunate deserter dashed hither and thither, drag- 
ging after him the struggling snake. 

A laugh at such a moment was truly the most unexpected 
and cruel thing in the world, yet that is what Joe, Charley, 
and Asa, who had drawn near, now heard. They knew with- 
out looking that it was the half-witted boy who laughed. 
He did not stop there ; he danced about, and .shouted again 
and again, — 

" That 's right, son ! Stick to him, son ! " 

Charley knew then that the snake was the j)et which he 
had once been permitted to see. 

" That 's right, son ! " shouted Billy. " Give it to him ! 
That 's what he gets for jumpin' on me." 

Calling madly for help. Sweet ran staggering toward 
the camp. 

" Beat liim off o' mel Beat him off o' me 1 " he cried, 
looking toward Asa and the boys. 

The rattler was as much a prisoner as his victim, and 
would gladly have let go and escaped. Had Sweet seized 
tlie snake by the neck and lifted it, the fangs could have 
been loosened in a moment ; but fear seemed to deprive him 
of reason, and he did nothing but spring about and yell. 

"We nmst do something," cried Joe, recovering from 
the stupefaction of the first few moments. Seizing an 
axe, he ran forward and dealt the snake a blow, severing a 
few inches of its tail, but not loosening its unwilling hold. 


Immediately after this, Sweet stumbled and fell prone on 
the ground, crying out the more from fear of closer con- 
tact with the snake. But the effect of the fall was to 
loosen the imprisoned fangs, and the rattler would now have 
glided rapidly away, had not Joe and Asa set upon it with 
sticks, quickly despatching it, much to the indignation and 
sorrow of Billy. 

This done, they turned to the unfortunate Sweet, who was 
now tearing off shoe and sock in a hurried, terrified way, and 
groaning aloud. The wound had already begun to swell. 

" Can we do anything for you, Mr. Jackson ? " asked Joe. 

" Oh, I don't know what to do ! " was the despairing 
answer. " Eun, go call Bubber and the rest of 'em. Maybe 
they'll know." 

Joe and Charley then ran out of the clearing, shouting, 
and in about twenty minutes returned with Bubber and 
three of the other men. As they approached they saw Asa 
preparing to cut the body of a fresh-killed partridge in half, 
the neck having just been wrung off Sweet now lay upon 
his back on the grass, shuddering with horror. 

" If anybody 's got any whiskey hid off anywhere," said 
Bubber, in a tone of authority, " let 's have it. Now 's the 
time to fetch it out." 

He looked from one face to another, as heads were 
shaken, until one of the deserters turned and moved away, 
remarking that he had a "leetle smodgykin " saved up for 
a time of need, and would get it. He walked off into the 
woods, and returned shortly with a small bottle containing 
less than half a pint of colorless whiskey. This was forth- 
with poured down Sweet's throat. 


Stout cords were then tied as tiglitly as possible round 
the leg above and below the wound, in order to check the 
circulation of the poisoned blood, and the raw quivering- 
flesh of the partridge was pressed bard on the wound itself, 
acting as an absorbent. 

Several birds were slain, one after another, and as soon as 
one bleeding half was taken from the wound another half 
was applied. Asa had suggested that the raw flesh of the 
rattler be applied in lieu of the partridge ; but this the pois- 
oned man would not permit. 

But by nightfall Sweet's leg was startlingly swollen, 
and he had begun to wander in his mind. It was plain 
that too much time had been lost while the snake hung 
from its victim, and while the men were being summoned. 

Charley had meanwhile described how he had one day 
been invited to visit the snake at its hole; how Billy had 
fed it, and seemed to be on friendly and familiar terms 
with it. Joe and Asa also testified tliat the boy, having 
evidently enticed tlie snake to the clearing, was playing 
with the reptile when Sweet set upon him with the switch. 
No one forgot that Jackson was of an ugly temper, and 
treated the poor boy cruelly ; but none the less was Billy 
now looked upon with suspicion and aversion, and by com- 
mon consent he was shut up in tlie prison-pen built for Asa. 

The majority of the men seeujed to suspect that he was 
no less than a fully equipped conjurer; and the next day 
some of them took the precaution of putting red pepper 
in their shoes as a safeguard against witchcraft. The 
y»oisoned man grew worse and worse ; and soon after mid- 
night he died in great agony. 


After this a profound hush fell on the bustling camp. 
Joe and Charley retired to the loft ; but all the men sat 
about the fire and watched till break of day. Arranging 
the limbs and covering the face of the dead, they freshened 
the fire and sat down to wait with wide-open eyes and 
busy thoughts. Their vigil was not merely to protect all 
that was left of Sweet from the possible attacks of wild 
animals, but to conform to the custom of their people. 
Moreov^er, no one cared to sleep. ^Nlen who had scarcely 
reflected in their lives felt impelled to do so now. Each 
thought upon past deeds and upon future amends. 

The blow that had fallen seemed to them not merely a 
judgment on their dead friend, but on them all, because 
of the selfish and unlawful life which they were living. 
But wlien at last the morning broke, only one of the eight 
still kept faith with his resolves of the niglit. The others 
had felt no more than that sham repentance which is 
active only when in tlie presence of fear. 

Awaking rather late next morning, Joe and Charley 
heard the sound of carpenters' tools, and, descending the 
ladder, saw several of the men engaged in making a rough 
coffin. Others were digging a grave several hundred 
yards out on the open ridge. By the time Asa had given 
the boys something to eat, the coffin was ready and the 
body was placed in it. Then four of the men lifted it, and 
bore it to the grave, followed by all except Billy, who was 
still in prison. 

One of the deserters, called Arch Thatcher, had formerly 
been a lay preacher. He now offered a prayer, sung a 
hymn, in which a few others joined, and made a few 


remarks about the vanities of the world, after which the 
coffin was lowered aud the earth thrown in. It was then, 
as all were ready to return to camp, that Bubber cleared 
his throat and stepped forward. 

" I don't know hardly what to say, men," he began, 
paused, then continued : " I don't know how it is with 
you-all; but as for me I don't feel right, and I aim to make 
a change. I 'm tired playiu' sneakin' suck-egg dog, aud 
from this on I expects to try to be a man. I 'm a-goin' 
back to the tight myself; I don't care what the rest of ye 
do. You kin stay right on h-yer, men, if you hanker to 
stay, and I won't tell on ye ; but as for me, I 'm a-goin' to 
take these boys home and then go back to the fight. 
Anybody got anything to say agin it ? " 

He paused and looked around. No one spoke. Joe's, 
Charley's, and Asa's were the only bright faces which met 
his gaze. The others were downcast. 

"I got just one thing to ask o' you-all,* he continued, 
looking at one or two of the leading spirits among the 
men. " I want to ask you to take Billy home to his 
people. You know whar to find 'em. 'T ain't fur. Sweet 
was kin to Billy himself, but I'm free to say he didn't 
have no right to fetch him in h-yer." 

" We '11 be mighty willin', I 'm a-thinkin','' responded 
the man called Thatcher. " We '11 be glad enough to git 
rid of 'im. We don't want no sicli around. Fust thing 
we know he '11 be tolin' up another rattlesnake." 

" I 'm a-goin' to take Asa aud the two boys and start 
to-day," announced Bubber. " And I 'm a-goin' to take 
my share of the skins, too. We 'U have to take two o' 


the boats ; but we '11 leave 'era in the old place on t' other 
side the prairie, and to-morrow three of ye kin go over in 
t' other boat, and bring 'em all back. Now if anybody 's 
got anything to say agin it, let him sny so right now, and 
we '11 settle it right h-yer 'fore we quit." 

But no one made a reply, and the plan was understood 
as settled. Dislike the arrangement as they might, none 
of the men felt disposed to stand forth and challenge the 
" cock of the walk." 

Calling Asa, Bubber ordered him to proceed at once to 
the cooking of a " snack " for their proposed journey, then 
turned away to make other preparations on his own ac- 
count. Left to themselves, the two happy boys were not 
slow to collect their few treasures and otherwise prepare 
for the march. 

The other seven men hung about the grave, talking 
gloomily and in low tones, not, however, of the virtues 
or vices of the dead, but of their own situation and doubt- 
ful prospects. The dead man had few, if any, real friends, 
having maintained the ascendency which he enjoyed, not 
by the power of sterling character, but by the force of will 
and muscle. His truculent nature had often been the sub- 
ject of comment with the two boys; but since the liour of 
the tragedy their tlioughts had been filled only with pity for 
the unhappy man who was less their enemy than he was 
his own. As they turned away after the burial, however, 
Charley gave expression to a thought which was in Joe's 
mind also. 

" "Well," said the little fellow, innocently, " I hope Mrs. 
Jackson will get a better husband now." 




TWO hours later tlie seven deserters saw tlie last of 
tlieir former comrade, as the boats pulled away from 
the landing, and began the difficult struggle across the 
prairie. One carried Bubber Hardy, together with his 
liides, strapped in two small, but heavy bales. The other 
contained Asa, Joe, and Cliarley, who was the last to step 
on board, he having halted in order to peep through the 
cracks of the prison-liouse and call out a good-by to his 
hapless friend Billy. 

It was five o'clock in the afternoon when they landed. 
Saying they had no time to lose, Bubber gave one bale 
of hides to Asa, shouldered the other himself, and led 
the way. The boys followed v^ith their own belongings. 

After a march of some three-quarters of a mile through 
a forest, which thickened as they proceeded, the skins were 
thrown down under a tree and abandoned ; and the party 
pushed on a full half a mile farther before a spot suitable 
for a camp was found. 

The sun was not yet down ; but it was by no means a 
waste of time to halt. Bark must be stripped from the 
cypresses to spread on the damp ground ; moss or leaves 
must be gathered, in order to soften what would otherwise 


be a very hard couch ; fuel must be collected, a fire built, 
and supper cooked. Giving Asa some directions, Bubber 
walked off into the woods. An hour later it had grown 
dark, and he had not yet returned. 

"He must have changed his mind, and gone back to 
the deserters," said Joe at last, uneasily. 

" He des gone off ter hide dera skins, — dat wut he up 
ter," was Asa's confident rejoinder ; and a few minutes 
later Bubber reappeared. 

It seemed to the boys that their hardships and miseries 
were already over. They ate heartily of the supper, slept 
soundly all night, and during the long, difficult march of 
eight hours next day, did not once straggle behind or lose 
lieart. When they finally entered the open pine woods 
beyond the limits of the swamp, they could scarcely re- 
strain shouts of delight. 

Joe particularly felt happy. His great plan had indeed 
failed; but still his hopes were in a measure realized. He 
had not persuaded a whole band of deserters to return to 
the war ; but after a long sojourn among them in the fast- 
nesses of the Okefenokee, he was now on the threshold of 
the outer world, accompanied by the lost Asa and at least 
one penitent, convinced of the error of his ways. 

As the familiar double-pen log-house came into view, 
the boys were gladdened at sight of smoke issuing 
from the chimneys. Somebody was there ; perhaps their 
father and mother and sister. They quickened their steps, 
looking forward expectantly. 

Drawing nearer, they observed with surprise that a 
soldier stood all alone at the uate. He saw them almost 


at the same moment, and, after a searching glance, he 
walked hnrriedly to meet them. It was Captain Marshall. 

" Joe ! Charley ! Is it possible ? " he exclaimed, when 
they had met, putting his hands on their shoulders in a 
glad way. " Where have you been ? The whole country 
has been searched for you." 

In a few hurried words Joe outlined the story of their 
adventures, not forgetting to mention Bubber's resolve 
to re-enlist. 

" I reckon they won't shout me if I give up and go back 
to the fight, will they, Cap'n Marshall ? " asked Bubber, 
humbly, with the air of one prepared to meet his fate. 

" Your repentance comes too late," answered the captain, 
sternly and sadly. " The war is over." 

The deserter started as if he had received a blow, and 
drew back, his face a living picture of shame and regret. 

" And we brought Asa, too," cried Joe, proudly, not 
taking in the captain's meaning, so great was his joy and 
so turbulent his thoughts. 

"Too late again," said Captain Marsliall. "Asa is now 

Asa looked about him in bewilderment, and Bubber 
repeated mournfully, " The war is over ! " 

Joe caught the words this time, and, with a great gulp 
in his tln'oat, asked what all this meant. 

"General Lee surrendered at Appomatto.x on the ninth 
of April," replied the captain. 

" And I can never be a soldier ! " exclaimed the boy, 
in great sorrow, after asking a few more questions. 

" You can at least be a brave man," said Captain 

The Welcome lloine. — /'/;'(• i8i. 


Marshall, no less . " But run into the house, boys ; 

be quick \ " he added, turning to move away. " Go to 
your mother and sister. They have been almost distracted 
about you." 

After their mother and sister had kissed them many 
times and wept over them ; after their dear old father had 
held them against his heart, and all had looked at them 
long and fondly ; after many questions had been asked 
and answered, and their long story had been told almost 
in detail ; after night had fallen, and the reunited family 
were seated together over their evening meal, — Joe remem- 
bered the partner in their late misfortunes, and abruptly 
addressed his father, making an unexpected request. 

"I want to give my gun to Asa," he said. "He has 
none, and I know he wants one. May I, father ? " 

" Yes. He deserves to be rewarded." 

" I want to give him something, too, papa," ciied 
Charley, " He was so good to us ! You ought to have 
seen him when we were ruunin' from the deserters. He 
let me ride on his back a long ways, and I know he was 
tired. What can I give him, papa ? I could give him 
my hatchet, but that would n't be mucli." 

" I '11 tell you what you can give him," said the father, 
well pleased to see these generous impulses in his sons; 
"you can give him a piece of land. He is free now, and 
may want to set up for himself. I am not a rich man 
any longer, but I can afford to give Asa a few acres. I '11 
give 1/021 the land, and then you can give it to him." 

" Oh thank you, papa," cried Cliarley, delighted, and 
soon ran away to tell tlie negro of his good fortune. 


" Mr. Hardy was very good to us, too," said Joe. " But 
for him, we should have had a hard time in that deserter 
camp. I hope Captain Marshall and the soldiers won't 
do anything to him." 

" He will not be molested now. The war is over, and 
the remnants of our armies are disbanding everywhere. 
But he will be disgraced for life, and deserves his fate, 
however kind he may have been to you." 

Though a sense of strict justice might dictate it, to the 
boy this speech seemed stern, considering the deserter's 
active and complete repentance ; and lie could not help 
hoping that Bubber Hardy would in time M'in the full 
confidence and respect of his fellow-men. 

pis father told him that night that it was well the war 
was oyer ; but Joe was a long time in recovering from his 
first feeling of disappointment and regret. Not so Charley, 
who became deeply absorbed in other things as soon as 
Martha confided to him a great secret, — which was that 
she was encraojed in bakiu"; a wedding cake. 


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\l i1 


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writes, and which she tells of in that delightful and sparkling manner that one 
cannot grow tired of. — Thovias S. Collier. 

IN THE GARDEN OF DREAMS. Lyrics and Sonnets. i6mo. 

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3 .^toriJ of rijc ^panisij iHain, 

With Illustrations by F T. Merrill. 
i6mo. Cloth. Si.oo ; paper covers, 50 cents. 

'' Buried treasure is one of the vers- foundanocis of romance Phis is 

the theory on which Mr Stevenson has written 'Treasure Island.' Primarily 
It IS a book for boys, with a boy-hv,ro and a string of wonderful adventures. 
But it is a book for boys which will be delightful to all grown men who have the 
sentiment of treasure-hunting and are touched with the true spirit of the Spanish 
Main. Like aU Mr Stevenson's good work, it is touched with genius. It ia 
written — in that crisp, choice, nervous English of which he has the secret — with 
sach a union of measure and force as to be in its way a masterpiece of narrative. 
It is rich in ex,:ellent characterization, in an abundant invention, in a certain grim 
romance, in a vein of what must, for want of a better word, be described as melo- 
drama, which is both thrilling and peculiar It is the work of one who knows aj 
there is to be known about ' Robinson Crusoe,' and to whom Dumas is some- 
thing more than a great aKtusatr ; and it is in some ways the best thmg he has 
produced" — London Saturday Review 

" His story is skilfully constructed, and related mth untiring vivacity and genuine 
dramatic power. It is calculated to fascinate the old boy as well as the young, 
the reader of Smollett and Dr. Moore and Marryatt as well as the admirer of the 
dexterous ingenuity of Poe. It deals with a mystenous island, a buried treastire, 
the bold buccaneer, and all the stirring incidents of a merry life on the Main. . . 
We can only add that we shall be surprised if ' Treasure Island ' does not satisfy 
the most exacting lover of perilous adventures and thrilUng situations." — London 
A cadeniy. 

■' -A.ny one who has read ' The Xew Arabian Nights ' will recognize at once 
jfr Stevenson's qualifications for telling a good buccaneer story. Mr. Steven- 
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with Marryatt Yet we doubt if either of those writers ever succeeded in making 
a reader identify himself with the supposed narrator of a story, as he cannot faD 
to do m the present case. As we follow the narrative of the boy Jim Hawkini 
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A thetuButn. 

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JACK AND JILL: A Village Story. With Illustrations. 
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ROBERTS BROTHERS, Publishers, Boston. 


TOM. A Home Story. By George L. Chaney. IGmo 
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for the bo3"s who mean business. By George L. 
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ROBERTS BROTHERS, Publishers, Boston. 

Messrs. Roberts Brothers' Publications. 

The New Harry and Lucy. 

A Story of Boston in the Summer of 1891. By 
Edward E. Hale and Lucretia P. Hale. With 
illustrations by Herbert D. Hale. i6mo, cloth. 
Price, $1.25. 

In a most interesting preface the authors give some information re- 
garding their story, which, it seems, was written as it appeared in The 
Commonwealth, and had no plot other than that which imfolded week by 
week. The hero and heroine record their own experiences by means of 
letters, — he to his mother, and she to a girl friend at home; and the com- 
pleted story is exceedingly natural and readable. It is not at all unlikely 
that the letters of any two bright, wide-awake people might not combine 
into a most acceptable novel ; and as the two authors of this book claim, 
such a record of the life of any city during a few months or years would 
be of tremendous interest and value when another generation should take 
to wondering just how the old-time young men and women passed their 
days, and how the city which they knew could have looked an hundred 
years back. So, as Dr. Hale says, if the Public Library shall have pre- 
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shall be near its close, this story of Boston life, with all its interesting 
information, will be very valuable. And as nothing that Dr. Hale or his 
gifted sister writes can be ever anything but interesting, "The New 
Harry and Lucy" need not wait for appreciation till a hundred years shall 
have yellowed its printed page. 

It is a wide awake, interesting story. — Boston Times. 

It is unnecessary to state that as a book for young people, inspiriting as 
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And no book written by Dr. Hale is without interest to intelligent persons 
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Messrs. Roberts Brothers' Publications. 

The Gamekeeper at Hoaie. 

■Sketcfies of j!i<latiiral ^Ifistorg anti Eiiral Eifc. 


One volume. 8vo. Illustrated by Charles Whymper. 
Price, ^S-75' ^ cheaper edition, price, ^'i.^o. 

Richard Jefferies, whose essays on subjects of. natural history and rural life 
are the most appreciative of any written by English authors, describes work and 
ways but little known to American readers in his new book, "The Gamekeeper 
at Home." It is an out-door experience, dealing directly, and with little senti- 
ment, with the ""urred and feathered animals, wild and domestic, of the fields and 
woods around him. It has its pleasures from association with Nature, in observa- 
tion and sport, which tones character and exhilarates thought and action ; but it 
has its pains from the poaching of villagers and otliers, the trespassing of destruc- 
tive birds and beasts, and routine labor. 

It is the part of the author to put himself in the place of the gamekeeper, 
and describe to others tliose pleasures and pains. ■ But the facts are from his own 
observation, which permits of criticism, and introduction of general information, 
suggestive of his characteristic studies. It is a novel subject, and has great 
interest. — Boston Globe. 

The number of the admirers of Richard Jefferies lias steadily increased since 
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are always fresh and pleasing. — Christian Union. 

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■firicf ^tttitcs from \\t -^Sooti of J^aturc. 

Author cf " By Moorland and Sea," and '^Idylls of the Field." 


liimo. Cloth, rrice, $1.50. 

The author studies Nature as that most competent of all naturalists, a poet. 
Every bird-note striking on his ear susgests a train of reflections, even the snakes 
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pecker, and the long-tailed tit; the starling, tlie dipper, and the ciicknn are all 
objects of tender interest, and from early spring to latest autumn not a dav but is 
full of meaning for this observer; who gets more than a catalogue of facts out of 
his observations. It is a most dehcate and refined imagination playinein the fields 
and among the grasses, along the brooks and under the leaves. The words of 
Nature, which so few have the wit to read, are studied with a sympathy born of 
long experience. The style withal is charming and concise. It is impossible that 
any one should read these little essays without having the imaeination enlivened 
and the interest in Nature quickened and invigorated. — Post Dispatch. 

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Aiitlior of " By Leafy IJ^iys," and " By Moorland and Sea" 


12mo. Cloth. Price, $1.50. 

Dealing chiefly with bird life, the work also contains much information about 
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Messrs. Roberts Brothers" Publieations. 

Our Autumn Holiday 



W ith Pictorial Title. i6n:io. Paper covers, 50 cents ; cloth, $1.00, 

" A quite fascinating book for idle summer clays Mr. Mollov has the true 
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"There is not a stupid p.ige in the whole book ; every chapter is jolly, fresh; 
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'All Autumn Holiday' will cause many readers to pass a happy hour or two. It 
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people will regret neither the coolness of us mam theme nor its liappy super- 
ficiality " — Neiu York Tunes 

" Mr. Molloy has a singularly delicate and quick touch ; and his fun and 
pathos are equally ready and genuine- His little volume of sketches is a vnie 
work; it is in every way charming, full of information, and delicious as the fra- 
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cheek set toward the sun- Wherever the lover of pleasant books may be, — in 
quiet country town, under shade of miglity hills .and their pine-iorests, or near the 
sounding promontories of the sea. (jr if he stay in the heat and noise of the 
town, — he can have no more delightful reading than this record of an .Autumn 
Holiday on French Rivers." — Portland Press. 

"Roberts Brothers are issuing a charming series of books of out-door life, 
which is just the kind of books that are called for both by the present season and 
the growing taste for that kind of recreation Another one just published is ' Our 
Autumn Holidays on French Rivers,' by J L. Molloy, and is as bright, breezy, 
spirited, and racy of the country life which it depicts, as any one can desire." — 
Hartford Coiiraut. 

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With Frontispiece Illustration by Walter Crane. i6mo 
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"This is one of the brightest books of travel that has recently come to our 
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figure, not only as a tourist seeking subjects for a book, but as an artist to whom 
ti:e slightest line or tint conveys a definite impression." — Bosioji Courier. 

'•A very agreeable companion for a summer excursion is brought to our side 
without ceremony in this lively reprint of a journal of travel in the interior of 
France. For all locomotive or four-horse stage coach, the writer had chartered a 
little she-ass, not much bigger than a dog, whom he christened ' Modestine,' and 
whose fascinating qualities soon proved that slie was every way worthy of the 
name. Mounted on this virtuous beast, with an inordinate supply of luggage 
slung over her patient back in a sheepskin bag, the larder well provided with 
cakes of chocolate and tins of Bologna sausage, cold mutton and the potent wine 
of Beaujolais, the light-hearted traveller took his way to the mountains of South- 
ern France. He has no more story to tell than had the 'weary knife-grinder,' 
but he jots down the little odds and ends of his journey in an off-hand, garrulous 
tone which sounds as pleasantly as the careless talk of a cheerful companion in a 
country ramble. The reader must not look for nuggets of gold in these slight 
pages, but the sparkling sands which they shape into bright forms are both at- 
ti active and amusing." — N. Y. Tribune. 

" 'Travels with a Donkey ' is charming, full of grace, and humor, and fresh- 
ness : such refined humor it all is, too, and so evidently the work of a gentleman. 
I am half in love with him, and much inclined to think that a ramble anywhere 
with such a companion must be worth taking. What a happy knack he has of 
giving the taste of a landscape or any out-door impression in ten words! " 

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Dr. Hale's style is so well-known that it seems unnecessary to say more of 
one of his books than to announce its issue. The friends of the " Ten Times 
One is Ten " series will find this latest volume equally delightful with the others. 
Four boys of the " Lend-a-Hand " club camp one summer in the Kaatskills, 
and, in addition to trout-fishing and hunting, find time to practicaliy illustrate 
their club name in various neighborly acts of kindness for the mountaineers. 
The first summer one new member is added, and each one enrolls a new member 
for the following summer. Thus doubling its membership, the work of the club 
in camp reunion eacli summer, and in various schools and towns in winter, is 
traced for four years, making a very bright and interesting story. — Public 

Stories about woodland camps are always of interest to boys, and Dr. Edward 
Everett Hale knows how to write and touch the innermost chord of sympathy in 
young hearts. The Wadsworth mottoes and their work form the theme of Dr. 
Hale's latest story, " Four and Five " The delightful camp, the ice-boat race, 
the stories of the incidents in various parts of the world, the formation of the 
club all go to make up a very readable story. Every boy will be benefited by it. 
— Boston Times. 

A new volume has been published in Edward Everett Hale's popular "Ten 
Times One " series which is entitled " Four and Five. A story of a Lend-a-Hand 
Club." The story is imbued with all that strong, fresh, original, and helpful style 
for which the distinguished author is so famous, and which has made him so 
immense a favorite with young people, as well as with all older readers. Several 
interesting incidents occur during their camping times in which they splendidly 
carry out their lend-a-hand principle, and carry substantial aid and joy to the 
unfortunate. The story throughout is instinct with the brightest spirit, while the 
mottoes of the club are illustrated in a way to make it eminently helpful to 
every boy and girl in the land. — Boston Home Journal. 

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This is one of the very few books that every American at least ten 
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enough for the best man or tlie loveliest woman in all this blessed land. 
— Boston Beacon. 


JOLLY Good times at School 

what an Unde Jerry ! O you splendid man ! " cried Millie. — Pag2 137, 


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'• What s your name, boy ? " — Page 247. 


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LITTLE MEN; or, Life at Plumfield with Jo's 
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Mice at Play. 

" I pulled it full of water, and then I poked the pipe end into her 
ear, and then I let it fly." 

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"Will Bradley and I." 


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Stories of War, 

Told by Soidien 

Stories of the sea, 

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Stories of adventure, 

1 old by Adventurers. 

STORIES OF Discovery. 

Told by Discoverers. 


Told by Inventors 

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With Frontispihce Illustration ey Walter Crane. 
i6mo. Cloth. Price, Si.oo. Paper covers, 50 cents. 

"Since Robert Louis Stevenson wrote his delightful 'Travels with a Donkey 
in the Cevennes,' English and American readers have been waiting in anxious 
expectancy for some second work from his pen. That volume was so full oi 
light and air, so utterly unconventional, and combined in so natural and charming 
a manner descriptions of strange people and strange scenes with bits of reflection 
and sentiment, that everybody read it with enjoyment and turned its last lea 
with regret. And now, in 'An Inland Voyage,' comes its fitting companion 
just as fresh and bright, and marked in even a higher degree by the same 
qualities which gave its predecessor so wide a popularity." — Boston Transcript 

"The weary wight who would get to himself an hour of Iiarmless pleasure can- 
not do better than to go on 'An Inland Voyage ' with Robert Louis Stevenson 
The voyage is through the canals and rivers at the Netherlands, and is made in 
canoes. The chronicler of this pleasant journey tells the story of the expedition 
with exquisite grace and humor. The slightest detail affords matter for enticing 
comment. All the little adventures of ordinary travel are interpreted with the 
imagination of the artist. A bit of landscape or color is sketched in a sentence 
or two. And in all this is conveyed a graphic impression of the country and its 
inhabitants. One does not often meet with a book more thoroughly charming 
from the literary point of view, with such attractiveness and freshness of style, 
or with so piquant a flavor of individuality " — Philadelphia Item. 

" He has an uncommonly vivid fancy, and the faculty of producing odd con- 
trasts and securing striking effects by unexpected aiTangements of familiar things. 
He is also a keen observer, and he has a piquant and vivid style. In this charm- 
ing little volume he records a journey in a canoe through one of the oldest and 
most attractive portions of the continent, starting from Antwerp. The peculiar- 
ities of a very striking local life are reproduced by many quiet touches which 
leave a delightful impression of freshness upon the mind of the reader. Alto- 
gether this volume must be regarded as one of the moat readable of the season.' 
— Christian Union 

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A.UTHOR OF " Castle Blair," " Hector," " Phyllis Brownii 
With Illustrations. i6mo. Cloth. Price $i.oo. 

" A chaste, simple, and interesting story, of a pure and pleasing literary style, 
is 'A Sea Change,' by Miss Flora L. Shaw. It is of the class of stories that 
come from the pen of Miss Yonge, and when this is said, enough is said by way oi 
commendation. The heroine is a young girl who, when a child, was washed 
ashore upon the coast of Cornwall. The mission of this little book is one for 
sound, simple living, and its lesson one of a sweet life and a loving heart, which 
is beyond all price." — Boston Herald. 

" The very clever author of ' Castle Blair ' has added another to her list of ex- 
cellent and entertaining children's stories. Miss Shaw always writes with an 
object, which is to elevate children's thoughts and characters, and always suc- 
ceeds in making her stories helpful and worth thinkiiig about, by not only young 
but old people as well. We heartily recommend this story." — The Churchman. 

" It is a sweet and tender portrayal of childhood, and the yorng heroine ma'Kes 
a warm friend of every reader. Domestic life in a fashionable family, with a 
worldly mother and father, is equally well portrayed. The characters are well 
sustained, and are the natural result of the surrounding influences ; the portraits 
are deftly painted, and the lights and shades of human life are photographed with 
a keen perceptive power. ' A Sea Change ' is not up to the standard of 'Castle 
Blair,' but it is none the less a delightful story for boys and girls, and almost 
equally attractive to grown-up readers." — Providence Journal. 

" Among the multitude of minor novels which are now appearing (for what but 
minor novels are well-written stories for the young?), the freshest and pleasantest 
that we have lately seen is ' A Sea Change,' by Flora L. Shaw, an English lady 
who has a special and uncommon talent in writing these delightful productions- 
She has a grace, a tenderness, and a pathos which we find in no American woman 
jn the same by-path of letters ; and if we may juflge of the effect of her lively 
little fictions upon young people by their effect upon ourselves, they are not onlt 
charmed while they read her books, but are happier and better for having read 
them. It is an enviable t lent which she possesses." — N. Y. Mail, 

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HECTOR: A Story. 

By flora L. SHAW, 

Author of "Castle Blair," "Phyllis Browne," "A t;EA 

With Illustrations. i6ino. Cloth. Price $i.oo 

•■ It is perhaps enough to say of ' Hector ' that il is by the author rt ' Castle 
Blair,' which had in it the best description of a noble child that Ruskiu ever read, 
and an equally good description of a noble dog. But, because an autlior writes 
one good book, it does not necessarily tollow that she can write another. But 
Flora L. Shaw has proved herself capable of going on as bravely as she began. 
' Hector" is a charming story. It turns upon the interest which the boy Hector 
and Zelie took in the love affairs of two older people, one of whom is threatened 
with a marriage wholly distasteful to her. Hector and Zelie resolve that this 
shall never be, and to prevent it they go off together in search of the absenf 
lovers, and have some sad adventures, but do finally accomplish that for which 
they set out. Everything ends happily, even to a glimpse that Hector and Zelie 
will some day be everything to each otlier. The charm of the story is even more 
in its way of being told than in its general conception." — Christian Register. 

'" Hector,' by Flora L. Sliavv, is a beautiful little tale of child life, abounding 
with lovely glimpses of rural scenery, and fragrant with sweetness of feeling and 
tenderness of sen'imant. Its tone is pure and fresh, and the story it tell-* is as 
unhackneyed as it is fascinating. Its more vigorous incidents are related with 
uncommon powe', but it is in the delineation of character, and chiefly in ihat of 
its heroine, by whose lips the recital is given, that its chief charm is to be found. 
It is a book for both young and old to read with genuine pleasure." — Saturday 
Evening Gan'.tte ■ 

"This i' something more than a story for children, although children are the 
chief cKanxters. The scene is France, and we pass in review tlie status of the 
peasant, the small proprietor, the smith, gamekeeper, physician, and noble in 
a French country neighborhood. Yet all is brought in naturally and without 
efTort. The .^tnry is pleasantly told in the words of a little French girl, whose 
comrade md hero is Hector, a little English boy."— N Y. Times. 

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By flora L. SHAW. 

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" Tliere is quite a lovely little book just come out about children, • 
■ Castle Blair 1 ' . . . The book is good, and lovely, and cnie, having tin 
best description of a. noble child in it (Winnie) that 1 ever read ; and nearh 
the best description of the next best thing, — a noble dos." -.i\s |oi-c 
Ruskin, the distinguished art critic. 

" 'Castle I'llair,' a story of youthful days, by Flora L. Sli.iw, is an Inst 
story. A charming young girl — half French, half EngHsli — comes fro.i 
France, at the age of eighteen, to live with her bacheior uncle at Castl: 
Blair, which is in possession of five children of an absent brotiier of this 
uncle. The children are in a somewhat wild and undisciplined condition, 
but they are as interesting children as can be imagined, and some of thtni 
winning to an extraordinary degree. They are natural children, in mannr:i 
and in talk ; but the book differs from some American book.-i about childrev, 
in that it is pervaded by an air of refinement and good-breeding. The story i ; 
altogether delightful, quite worthy, from an American point of view, of aj' 
Mr. Ruskin says of it ; and if circulation were determined by merit, \\ 
would speedily outstrip a good many now popular childien's books wliici 
have a vein of commonness, if not of vulgarity." — Hartford Coiirant. 

" It is not too much to say that nothing more interesting or more whole 
some is offered tliis year for older boys and girls. It is a charming story, 
m which the author has delineated character as carefully, and with as keen 
an artistic sense, as if she had been wiiting a novel. Her book is a novel, 
indeed, with children and the lives of -jhildren, instead of men and womer. 
ind their lives, for its theme." — New York Evening Post. 

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HARRY BLOUNT. Passages in a Boy's Life on Land 
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"Only don't be hard on Sanch, he's been real good to me. and we're fond of one 
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